Is the ‘Power’ Back On?
The Rangers reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011-12, losing a heartbreaking series to the rival Devils, before getting bounced by Boston in the second round the following season.
After flirting with their first Cup since 1994 last Spring, the Blueshirts are determined to return to the Finals and finish the job.
But without a more consistent offensive output (2.61 goals per game in 2013-14), and improvement on their 15th-ranked power play from a season ago, the Rangers will once again be a team that relies too heavily on Henrik Lundqvist to bail them out in big games.
Adding defenseman Dan Boyle, who figures to anchor the top power-play unit, should provide an upgrade.
The Rangers’ penalty killing unit, which finished third overall last season, remains a strength.
Is Chris Kreider ready to become a bonafide star?
He’s 6-foot-3, 223 pounds and just 23 years old.
More importantly, Chris Kreider is in position to assume a leadership role on the Rangers’ first or second line despite the fact that he is still 11 shy of 100 career regular-season games.
Kreider, who actually scored five playoff goals before making his regular-season debut in 2012-13, has amassed 22 points in 44 career playoff games while displaying a penchant for being around the puck when it matters most.
If he can significantly bolster his 17-goal, 37-point performance in 66 games last season, the Rangers could be one of the East’s more formidable offensive teams.
Second chance for Malone?
After a disastrous season in Tampa, which saw him ultimately bought out of his contract following an arrest on DUI and drug charges, Ryan Malone will be a Blueshirt this year, thanks to GM Glen Sather’s belief that the bruising forward is primed for a bounce back in New York.
With six seasons of 20 or more goals on his resume, Malone could be just the kind of inexpensive pickup (a reported $700,000 two-way contract) the Rangers need to manage their bulging salary cap and get some unexpected offensive punch.