When the new divisions were officially announced last month, it was quite clear that the East is going to be a bloodbath. It’s probably the most competitive division in the NHL top to bottom. The problem is, who will be on top and who will be in the basement? So many people who have declared the East the most competitive division have almost the exact same prediction for the final standings. One thing I’ve learned from watching/gambling on sports, is that the public is always wrong and this is no exception.
Bruins…Flyers…Washington…Pittsburgh….who cares! (Poor Islanders lol)
Wow. That’s your prediction? That’s not a prediction. That’s literally taking the “best teams” from last year and putting them in order. It’s a crammed 56 game schedule, you need 2 goalies, you need to be young, you need to throw out routines, you need to be adaptable, and most of all you need to throw out last year. I truly believe the Rangers are in a position to be a pain in the ass in this division and Rangers fans should hang their hat on a playoff berth. Here’s why…
The Youth. The Rangers are the youngest team in the league. Usually I would say this is a negative, but this could be a positive. Older teams, older players all have routine. They don’t like change. They’ve become successful because they have found what works for them. They will be less willing to adapt. The Rangers young guns are malleable, they will be competing for spots in the starting line up, and I believe they will better at adapting to covid protocols if they are to pop up. The Capitals, Penguins, Flyers, and Bruins have a veteran core group that I think will struggle with this new look season. Change isn’t easy and change can lead to struggles and inconsistencies. Exactly what the Rangers need to make the playoffs.
Goaltending. On the Broadway Boys Podcast you can find me bringing this point up almost weekly. Tandem goaltending is the new norm. You need 2 goalies to successfully make it through the gauntlet of a regular season. With the crammed schedule, I believe teams with 2 solid tenders will be the most successful. The Rangers have exactly that and probably the best tandem in the division. Penguins don’t even have a goalie, Caps lost Hank, Flyers rely on Hart and he’s awful on the road, and Bruins have a solid tandem in Rask and the Halak-ness monster. Goaltending is a question mark on 3 of the 4 bad boys of the East.
The point of this blog wasn’t that the Rangers will definitely make the playoffs. The point is that the Rangers have the qualities to be successful. So predicting a playoff berth isn’t delusional. It’s going to be a crazy season, no doubt. The Rangers need that. Craziness is good. They need to bring a physical aspect to their game. They need scoring depth to compliment Panarin and Z. They need their defense to step up and find synergy. They need to sure up the d-zone structure that they lacked last year. There are so many question marks with this team, but they have the ingredients for success which makes this upcoming season that much more exciting.
I will be following up this blog throughout the season because a month from now I could wiping off the egg on my face. But the Rangers are one of the most intriguing teams in the league this year and it’s going to be a wild ride, for better or for worse.