The day has finally come! The Rangers open the regular season tonight against the Colorado Avalanche, who last year toted the worst record in the league at 22-56-4. There’s plenty of news surrounding Colorado with whether or not they’re going to trade superstar Matt Duchene this season and how they are going to bounce back from the franchise’s worst season in their 21 years and the worst since the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999-2000 who went 14-57-7-4 for 39 points that year.
According to DailyFaceoff.com, the Rangers forward lines tonight will go as such:
The only surprises on these lines are young Filip Chytil centering the 2nd line, and Jimmy Vesey on the 4th line with Desharnais and Carey. It looks as though Alain Vigneault wants to give Chytil as much ice-time as possible before Jesper Fast comes back from injury. Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see how the Czech youngster plays alongside Rick Nash and well deserved newly crowned alternate captain Mats Zuccarello.
The defense doesn’t have nearly as many surprises if any at all:
I really enjoy what Vigneault has done here. McD and Shatty were a match made in heaven. It’ll be incredible to watch what the captain is going to do this season when he isn’t shackled by Dan Girardi and actually has a point producing defenseman in Shattenkirk by his side. Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith were incredible in the playoffs and I’m sure they’re going to be great this year as well, it’s a shame that they were seated in favor of Staal and Holden last postseason often. The addition of Anthony DeAngelo this off-season was a dark horse for the Rangers. He’ll be on the 2nd power play unit and knows how to skate with the puck as well as having a quick release from the blue line. I don’t have much to say about Marc Staal because he looked abysmal in the preseason. I want to believe that he’s going to turn his career around but I’ll be on the fence until he proves me otherwise.
The goalies are obvious:
Lundqvist, 35, who is going into his 13th season with the Rangers, needs to make a great impression on the season to silence the critics from the offseason and prove he isn’t on a decline after a career low in Save %(.910), and career high in GAA(2.74). These are make or break years for The King with 21-year-old phenom Igor Shesterkin knocking on the door to the league a little down the road. The NYR prospect is 12-0-0 with a 1.19 GAA, a .956 SV%, with 3 SO in 12 games this season with SKA St. Petersburg (@NYRStatsInfo). Ondrej Pavelec hasn’t had the best career, but he hasn’t had the worst career. A lifetime 152-158 NHL record and is 0-4 in his career in the playoffs which is a little nerve-wracking knowing that this team’s goal is to win the Stanley Cup, but then I realize who he played for: the Atlanta Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets. Rangers goalie coach Beniot Allaire knows exactly what to do with goalies. You’ve see how he’s transformed goalies in the past with Hank, Talbot, and recently departed Antti Raanta so I’m not even in the slightest worried about Pavelec as the teams back-up.
The puck drops in the World’s Most Famous Arena at 7:10 tonight and while Chytil might be a huge player to watch, look out for Shattenkirk to play his heart out in front of the Blueshirt Faithful during his first game playing for the Rangers at The Garden.
Photo Credits: NHL.com