The Rangers are said to be taking a different approach to this years regular season as games to see who will be ready to make an impact for the playoffs. They don't care if they win them all, they just want to get the right pieces to the puzzle in place when it comes playoff time. It just happens that this season the Rangers have started off strong with a 15-3-2 record inspite of still having some glaring weaknesses. The weaknesses are being disguided by great goaltending a timely scoring. The Rangers seem to have addressed the huge problem of the last few years in the faceoff circle with the additions of Jarrett Stoll and Oscar Lindberg. How will the Rangers fix the bad powerplay and secondary scoring is the big question right now.
Looking at the lineup to start the next 1/4 of the season, it seems like a big shakeup except for the real first line of Rick Nash-Derrick Brassard--Mats Zuccarello. The USA line has been put together of Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Kevin Hayes. The Hartford line of J.T. Miller-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast has been reunited. The 4th line of older grizzly veterans with great faceoff talent of Dominic Moore-Jarrett Stoll-Victor Stalberg hopes to stay in the lineup with Emerson Etem not showing enough to break into the top 12 on a regular basis. The Rangers are hoping that this gets a few of the players clicking and filling the oppositions net while not giving up too much on the defensive side of the game.
On the backend of the team seems to be the backbone of this team that wants to get to the next level. Ryan McDonagh is with Dan Girardi, Marc Staal paired with Dan Boyle, and Keith Yandle with Kevin Klien. The Rangers gave up ALOT to make the deal for Yandle to make him a 3rd line dman and 2nd team powerplay. The 1st team powerplay unit only has Ryan McDonagh at the point which seems to fit coach Alain Vigneault's style. The 2nd powerplay unit had Yandle and Boyle at the point. Yandle sits behind Captain McDonagh and Marc Staal on the left side and he is a free agent at the end of this season. Jeff Gorton has to make a decision on who will return next year and turn either Marc Staal or Keith Yandle as a trade chip becaus ehtere is no way that the Rangers are going to pay over $5.5 cap hit on a 3rd line dman.
Between the pipes is the Rangers greatest strength. King Henrik Lundqvist has had an incredible start with a .943 save percentage to go along with a 1.85 goals against average and a 11-3-2 record. Antti Raanta has a 4-0-0 record is looks Talbot like as a backup. In Hartford the Rangers have Magnus Hellberg and Mackenzie Skapski for depth and either already has the talent to be an NHL backup.
The Rangers clearly need to make their powerplay better to keep other teams "honest" and wear other teams down while potting a few goals to take some pressure off their 5 on 5 play. If coach Vigneault doesn't want to use Glen Sather's last bigtime trade to give fixing the broken powerplay and allow him to do what he was brought to New York for, he needs to be put into a trade as he is useless as a 3rd line dman. Add in either Raanta of Hellberg and that will be a package to get a solid secondary scorer. If they were to put Staal amd any of the 3 goalies in a deal that could bring back an equal caphit of around $6.3 which could be a topline player when you add in the $1 mil caphit space the Rangers already have. If the Rangers are to move Yandle and one of the goalies, there would be $3.4 mil in cap space without what the Rangers already have in cap space.
There are rumors all over the place already concerning these Rangers. It's been reported that the Rangers have had their main scouts following the Leafs, Kings, and Hurricanes. The Rangers would love to move Brian Boyle but his NMC pretty much shuts the door on any deals they might be able to include him in, along with his recent talk about retiring after this season. It will exciting to see who remains on this team and how the Rangers address their needs in this next 1/4 of the season. A 15-3-2 start is a good place to start, but it's more important that the Rangers get a stronger powerplay and get consistency from all the players to make the Rangers a real Stanley Cup contender. LET'S GO RANGERS!!!!