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Experts Predict Where The Rangers Will Finish

National media are much higher on the Rangers with Brad Richards on board

National media are much higher on the Rangers with Brad Richards on board

The 2011 season is fast approaching and everyone with a keyboard is posting predictions for the upcoming campaign.  Here’s a look at how national media think the Rangers will do this season:

The Hockey News – [7th seed] “Why: One of the best defensive teams in the NHL last season backed by one of the game's elite goalies in Henrik Lundqvist, the young blueline led by Marc Staal and Dan Girardi will take another step forward in 2011-12. The area the Rangers needed improvement on was offense and that was addressed by adding the summer's top free agent, playmaking center Brad Richards. How much will Richards help the Blueshirts? Well, he doesn't automatically make them a powerhouse, but the thought of him alongside sniper Marian Gaborik is tantalizing. The Rangers can't be worse after improving their greatest need, but also won't jump too far ahead of where they were a year ago.”

Adam Proteau (The Hockey News) – [7th seed] “Yet again, the Rangers are coming off a season in which they looked good at times, but ultimately fizzled in the first round of the playoffs. The reason for that is simple: they had a world-class goalie in Henrik Lundqvist and impact forwards including Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky – but they didn’t have enough depth to keep pushing when injuries struck Gaborik and Callahan. Bringing in Brad Richards and Mike Rupp will help in that regard, but their defense still seems like a work-in-progress – especially with troubling news about Marc Staal and his post-concussion symptoms – and that could, once again, be enough to make them a one-series-and-done playoff team.”

The Hockey News (video preview) – “If the Rangers can avoid half the injuries they suffered last season, not only will they be a lock for the playoffs, but they'll contend for the Atlantic Division. They have a solid group of young defensemen who showed improvement throughout last season and a world-class goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist there to cover up any mistakes.  Consistency from the offense will be key. If the Rangers have it, they could find themselves in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008.” (team preview) – “Brad Richards signed on for a reminder of the good times he had winning in Tampa Bay. However, in the process, he also signed on for a re-run of the Sean Avery show.  Team chemistry can be a very delicate balance and under the bright lights of Broadway, the pressure on Richards and, possibly the entire Rangers team, has not been this high in years.  Can Avery behave himself for another full season and put the team first, or is it only a matter of time before he acts out again and burns his final bridge to the NHL?  Richards got a front row seat to the dog and pony show that was Avery's exit from Dallas, so if Avery is that toxic, certainly Richards would be one of the NHLers with first-hand knowledge.  But the expectation surrounding Avery has always been to expect the unexpected.  If the Rangers fire on all cylinders, they could dominate in the East and even win the Atlantic Division.  But what if Avery goes off again?”

Kevin Allen (USA Today) – [1st in Atlantic Division, 2rd in Eastern Conference] “If Richards generates 90 or more points, the Rangers have a shot at their first division title since 1994.”

Puck Daddy – “The Rangers will qualify for the playoffs, with an improved offense and a strong defense in front of Lundqvist. Success in the postseason comes down to seeding and special teams, but the Rangers have a collection of gritty vets and solid young players that have the potential for something special.”

Puck Daddy (staff picks)

Scott Burnside (ESPN) – “There was so much buzz around the signing of free-agent center Brad Richards this summer, it was easy to forget that the New York Rangers already had a lot going for them, from an elite netminder to a collection of young, hard-working defensemen to a handful of homegrown, talented forwards.  Make no mistake, Richards is a key addition and should help rejuvenate star winger Marian Gaborik after a disappointing 2010-11 campaign and propel the Rangers up the Eastern Conference standings. But this is a team that is far more than the sum of its free-agent signings.”

John Buccigross (ESPN) – 98 points, 5th in Eastern Conference

ProHockeyTalk – “The Rangers have things in place to be a very good team. They should absolutely be a playoff team and stressing out at the end of the season shouldn’t happen again this year.  As long as Richards and Gaborik stay healthy and keep their offense rolling, they’ll be a tougher team to handle. Their forward roster is deep and while there’s questions on their defense still, Lundqvist makes it all stand up. The question for New York is just how they can manage as a playoff team.”

Renaud Lavoie ( – 8th in Eastern Conference

Sarah Kwak (Sports Illustrated) – “Richards will be playing alongside Marian Gaborik, a 2009 free-agent pickup. A lefthanded shot playing the right wing, Gaborik is just the kind of linemate with whom Richards has thrived in the past (most notably Martin St. Louis in Tampa). A consistent top line would relieve goalie Henrik Lundqvist from having to carry the team. The Rangers' biggest concern, though, is their defense, which is extremely young (none of the defensemen are older than 27) and untested. Having more scoring options is great, but if New York cannot find a way out of its own zone, the path to the postseason will be tough.”

Darren Elliot (Sports Illustrated) – “This is an emerging outfit built largely on an identity of hard work and being hard to play against on a nightly basis. If the Rangers can survive an October on the road and put up more wins at the under-construction Madison Square Garden -- like they did two seasons ago -- a top three seed in April is possible.”

Larry Brooks (NY Post) – [6th seed, lose in Eastern Conference Finals]

Brian Monzo (WFAN) – [47-27-8] “I am not sure what the opinion of John Tortorella is around the Ranger fans, but I am believer.  He wants to win.   That’s all you can ask for in a coach.” 

RLD Hockey – “The Atlantic Division might just be the best division in the NHL this season. With that said, the Rangers might have just what it takes to finish atop it.”

The Hockey Writers – [7th seed] “No one in this world would tell you that the Rangers had a bad off-season; Brad Richards gives the Rangers a prominent No. 1 centre to play with Marian Gaborik, and adding Tim Erixon on defence makes sense. The Rangers lost very little in Grachev, Gilroy and Frolov.”



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2011-2012 season preview:

Eastern Conference Preview > (10/3/11)

Western Conference Preview > (10/4/11)

Experts Predict Where The Rangers Will Finish > (10/5/11)

NY Rangers Season Preview > (10/5/11)




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Posted by Kevin Baumer | October 6, 2011 at 11:12 am

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