3 Things the Rangers Must Do to Ensure a Trip to the Finals in 2013
In other words, the Rangers finished their regular season in a position nobody, not even the most die-hard fans, could have predicted them to be in.
Their magical run was cut short, however, in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, off of a quick goal by one Adam Henrique.
To say the loss was depressing would be an understatement.
The team who had done the impossible all post season, overcoming set back after set back, had finally been put to rest.
But there is hope for the young squad in New York City, who could find themselves perennial Stanley Cup Contenders with a few simple touch-ups.
The following is a list of three things the New York Rangers need to do to be Stanley Cup contenders in the 2012-2013 season.
Add Another Established Scorer
It's no secret the Rangers have struggled to score goals this season.
A team that prides itself on solid defensive play over a flashy offense doesn't exactly look to score a great deal of goals, but an average of less than 3 goals per a game makes it tough to win, especially in the post season.
The Rangers signed Brad Richards this season to fill that gap to a degree, and his clutch performances saved the Rangers dreams many times in this postseason, but he alone cannot carry the team.
While the Rangers do play an excellent defensive game, and Henrik Lundqvist continues to prove he is a world class goaltender, the Broadway Blueshirts need at least one more notable goal-scorer to be a truly threatening team to face.
With guys like Zach Parise, Ray Whitney and Shane Doan possibly leaving their respective teams, the Rangers should be on the hunt with fair chances of success.
Keep the Core Together
This off season, the Rangers have a few free agents on the market.
They also have some players fans consider "trade bait."
With a great deal of their young defensive core, a few forwards and their back up goaltender on the Free Agent market, the Rangers need to realize that the biggest attributes to their success this season were locker room chemistry and youth contributions..
Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zottto and others are still in the early years of their careers, making rookie mistakes which will be eliminated with experience. That's just what the Rangers have gotten this year. These players were placed in pressure situations galore and consistently rose to the challenge.
It appears Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella has a similar mindset, but the front office must do the same. Championship teams are not simply thrown together; they are created, grown and matured over time.
It's true all over the sports world.
Look at the Yankees of the late 90's, the Tampa bay Lightnings and even the Los Angeles Kings this season. A consistent development of prospects with the right mix of seasoned veterans brings the ultimate prize home, and that's the course the New York Rangers are headed for if they retain the majority of this season's roster this coming October.
Add Defensive Depth
If there's one big story for the New York Rangers this season, it has to be their defensive depth.
In a season where most projected starters were riddled with injuries, the Rangers turned to a very young defensive core and asked it to carry them through the season They did just that.
Led by the heroics or Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, every defenseman left it all on the ice, each and every game.
That being said, the Rangers have apparently lost defensive stud Michael Sauer for parts of the 2012-2013 season. Still suffering from the effects of a severe concussion, his return is questionable.
On top of this, all but three other Rangers defenseman are on the Free Agent market. The Broadway Blueshirts must maintain their defensive depth. To do so, it would be wise to not only resign most defensemen, but to try out some young defensive prospects and possibly add another top 4 d-man.
With players like Shea Weber and Ryan Suter on the Free Agent market, the Rangers should at least make a push to maintain or enhance their defensive depth.