From the desk of: RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS
NEW YORK RANGERS: The Big Blue Glacier Has Melted.
It's time to drop the puck again, but the Rangers will be doing it without Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, as both are still working back from shoulder surgery. I wonder how Callahan really feels regarding John Tortorella's departure? After all, Torts made him the model to follow; the ideal player; and the Captain. He basically spent three seasons building around Ryan Callahan. Moving forward, at least Carl Hagelin won't have to play looking over his shoulder anymore.
I guess we need to welcome back center Dominic Moore. Remember the HMO Line; Halweg, Moore, and Ortmeyer? You might say Glen Sather outlasted Derek Stepan and his agent, as the Rangers center signed for closer to the club figure than their own proposal. Two years from now, we'll have to renegotiate all over again. I'm looking forward to a hefty contribution from Derick Brassard. I like J.T. Miller and of course it's always good to see Brain Boyle. Brad Richards is the lone center man with any accompanying baggage.
On the wing, I like Jesper Fast. I think he can be an effective, physical two-way player, who also skates with speed. If he and Carl Hagelin can share a line together, their combined speed can create problems for defensemen. I liked last year's acquisitions of Taylor Pyatt and Derek Dorsett. Along with Rick Nash, Pyatt in particular gives us good size on the forward line. I can't get myself to shake pom-poms over Aaron Asham and Benoit Pouliot though. Lastly, we know the deal regarding Mats Zuccarello.
When Michael Del Zotto has his head screwed on right, the Rangers can skate two defensive lines that rival any in the league. Of course that also depends if Marc Staal continues to fully recover from a lengthy concussion. Slowly but surely we started getting back the old Staal last season. I'm hoping this season, he's back on his game for the entire haul. I like John Moore. He and Justin Falk instantly became our two biggest defensemen. Moore weighs in at 214 pounds, while Falk is listed at 215 lbs. At 6'5", Justin Falk is also an inch taller than Marc Staal. Anton Stralman is the littlest blue liner - coming it at 5'11" and only 190 pounds. The Rangers are going with seven defensemen to start the season.
Henrik is the King. What more is there to say, other than the club better get him signed to a contract. On the ice and between the pipes, Coach Alain Vigneault's system is going to create a whole new condition for Lundqvist. He will see more pucks and they will be coming from more angles than he was used to. His mates won't be blocking nearly as many shots this season either. Marty Biron is back to caddy Henrik. In last year's shortened season, Biron was never able to fully establish himself in his role as back-up. The schedule didn't allow for very well planned out breaks for Lundqvist.
What I really want to know is, when a member of the opposition takes their first run at Lunqvist, who will be sticking up for him? Granted, the Rangers added much needed size, but the toughness remains to be seen. Circling back to John Moore, that's why I like him. He can take care of himself and doesn't seem hesitant to mix it up.
Two seasons ago, the Rangers led the league in fighting, and in particular, led in fights within the first five minutes of a game. They dictated the play more back then by imposing themselves and their style. The key player in all that was Brandon Prust. In his absence, the Rangers sorely lacked that effect last season, and it showed! As a team, they spent far too much time getting pushed off the puck.
There's a new sheriff on Broadway, and his name is Alain Vigneault. His hockey style is western. The Rangers spent three years moving forward with the power of a glacier, then met some resistance last season, and so Glen Sather started changing things up. Now the plan is to skate with speed like - wind driven snow?
What's done is done.