The Quest for the Stanley Cup starts....NOW!
New York Rangers
The 8th Avenue Ice House at 33rd Street
All King Henrik's horses, and all the President's Trophy men must begin their march back towards the NHL Finals tonight. Anything less will be a major disappointment.
You know what I always say: You can't be disappointed with what you do not expect.
There's the rub...
The Rangers have evolved into favorites this season, and are now expected to win this year's Stanley Cup tournament.
What is it going to take for Tex's Rangers to hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time in 21 years?
An obvious factor will be the performance of Rick Nash. He seems well past his concussion issues, and is unhesitatingly playing physical hockey. The on-ice results speak for themselves. He posted a career best 42 goals this season.
But, all is not gold and glitter with him. He caught fire right out of the gate, scoring 9 goals in October, and 23 goals through December. From January through the end of the regular season, he posted 19 more. In March. however, Nash only score 3 goals, and then 2 more in April. That's only 5 goals in his final 19 games, after averaging 7.4 goals per month previous to March.
The 800-pound gorilla in the room is of course, Rick Nash's disappearance in two playoff appearances for the Rangers. Last year Nash scored 3 goals throughout the tournament, all against the Montreal Canadiens - none in the 1st, 2nd, and Final rounds. He tallied a mere 10 points in 25 playoff games. In 2012-2013, he managed just one goal and 5 points in 12 playoff games under John Tortorella.
Rick Nash trailed only Alex Ovechkin in all the NHL this season in shots on goal. All we can ask is that he continues creating opportunities, and fires the puck on net. With a change of luck accompanying his improved demeanor, perhaps some shots will find net this post-season.
Rick Nash anxiety aside, the Rangers have thrived with balanced scoring this season. But, size still matters. Kevin Hayse is only a rookie, however, he and Chris Kreider need to utilize their combined size and speed at post-season levels. They need to factor differently than say, Martin St. Louis, MatsZucs, and Carl Hagelin, who have the speed, but lack the size.
Pittsburgh is chock-full-o-playoff experience, and pose a threat at all times. The Pens are without their 2nd leading scorer (Letang). Therefore, up the ante on defense. Punish Sindy Crosby and Ivgeni Malkin. Play big and hit hard.
PICK ME UP A 6-PAK:
The Rangers HAD the top three defensive lines in hockey. They'll have the top three lines again once Kevin Klein returns. The Rangers will be without Klein for at least Game One. He's been out since March 11th, after suffering a broken arm while blocking a shot from Alex Ovechkin.
The Rangers allowed the 2nd least goals in the Eastern Conference this season, and were the 3rd in all the NHL. The Rangers also posted a league high +60 goal differential.
LET'S DO THIS:
Let's Go Rangers!!!