New York Rangers: 5 Key Questions That Must Be Answered in 2013

Ben LippelContributor IIIAugust 3, 2012

New York Rangers: 5 Key Questions That Must Be Answered in 2013

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    "There are no foolish questions and no one becomes a fool until they have stopped asking questions."  Unknown

    The 2011-2012 New York Rangers were certainly nobody's fools.

    First overall in the Eastern Conference standings during the regular season with a hefty 109 points, including 51 wins.

    Ten tough victories in the Stanley Cup playoffs, leading to a birth in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    A Vezina Trophy for Henrik Lundqvist. Plus, the King was a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Ted Lindsay Trophy for the MVP as voted on by the players.

    John Tortorella received a nomination for the Jack Adams Trophy as Coach of the Year.

    Truly impressive, indeed.

    But even with all of that, it would be foolish for the boys from Broadway to think that finishing six wins away from glory is good enough. 

    Foolish of them to think that the road ahead will get any easier. 

    And it would be foolish not to ask the following five key questions about a Blueshirts squad that has aspirations of hoisting the Holy Grail in 2013.

Can They Fix the Powerless Play?

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    If there's one area the Rangers must improve upon dramatically, it's the power play. 

    Last season, they finished 23rd out of 30 NHL teams at 15.7 percent with the man advantage, which was more like a man disadvantage. It's absolutely unacceptable for a team with visions of the Stanley Cup dancing in their heads. Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider need to come through up front.

    Plus, the Blueshirts need plenty of production from the point. This is where rearguards like Anton Stralman and Michael Del Zotto will be counted on to get the puck to the net quickly and accurately.

Can Brad Richards Pick Up His Point Production?

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    In his first season on Broadway, Brad Richards registered twenty-five goals and forty-one assists.

    As the Rangers' No. 1 center, he has to produce more. Much more. Especially when you consider he's signed through the 2019-2020 season, with an annual cap hit of $6,666,667. 

    But those kinds of numbers mean nothing to Rangers head coach John Tortorella. In fact, it was the fiery Blueshirts bench boss who commented to Katie Strang at espn.com that “He’s (Richards) got it. I’ve known him since he was a kid, when he broke into the league, and he’s made big plays at key times.” 

    Well folks, the key times will be here soon enough. And the man with the A on his sweater needs to bring his "A" game in 2013.

Can Biron Be the Big-Time Backup Again?

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    During the 2011-2012 season, Martin Biron posted a record of 12-6-2, with a 2.46 goals against average, two shutouts and a .904 save percentage.

    Pretty solid numbers for No. 43.

    In order for the Rangers to have success in the season ahead however, and in order for Henrik Lundqvist to get his requisite rest to feel fresh for many royal playoff performances, Marty must be magnificent when called upon.

Can They Bring Their Third and Fourth Lines to a Full Boyle?

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    The 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils told the tale of how to get through the gauntlet. Teams must have depth throughout their forward lines.

    The kind of depth that can chip in with the big goals when its absolute necessary.

    The kind of depth that can grind the opposition's defensemen shift after shift.

    The Rangers didn't have it and it cost them.

    So now, Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt, Arron AshamMike Rupp, Jeff Halpern and perhaps J.T. Miller or Christian Thomas will have the responsibility of bringing the necessary balance and banging to the bottom two lines.

Can They Avoid a D-Lemma?

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    Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto give the Rangers a terrific top four.

    One of the league's best.

    However, the third pair on defense is still unsettled. Anton Stralman must earn his contract extension. Stu Bickel must continue to improve. Plus highly-touted prospect Dylan McIlrath may be given a shot when he returns from his knee injury.

    When you're a team with championship dreams, the last thing you need is a D-Lemma.