NY Rangers: 5 Biggest Questions in 2013 Training Camp
The lockout is over, and the season is about to start, and there are some big questions that need to be answered during the 2013 training camp for the New York Rangers.
This is a team who many think can win a Stanley Cup, but they first have to work out some kinks and answer some pressing questions.
What are these questions? And what are the answers?
Read on to find out.
Can Rick Nash Handle Broadway?
He's finally here. After a year of flirting, the Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets were able to come together on a deal to send sniper Rick Nash to the Rangers.
Nash is seen as the missing piece, the elite scorer who will get the team over the top. He'll be a fixture on the first line and improve what has long been a mediocre power play. He's a terrific player.
But with all due respect to the city, Columbus is not like New York. The Blue Jackets have long been cellar-dwellers. But in New York, the expectations are sky high.
Nash is viewed as the savior, and the pressure will be on him to produce. If he can, the fans and media will love him.
But if not, the hounds will crash in on him faster than a postman with a treat. He needs to produce. If he doesn't, it could be a long year.
Nash is so critical to the Rangers' Stanley Cup hopes. He's the player who will take pressure off Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, add another layer of scoring and boost the power play.
Nash has welcomed the challenge, and he's seemingly up for it. But he has to produce, or the trade will be determined a disaster, and fans will be booing him all the way back to Columbus.
Is Marian Gaborik Healthy Enough to Succeed?
Marian Gaborik has been deemed ready to play after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
That's good news for the Rangers, because they can use Gaborik. He was their leading scorer last season, netting 41 goals.
And while Rick Nash is here to take off some of the pressure, the more Gaborik can score, the better off the Rangers will be.
If he's truly healthy, then he should be able to score at his usual high pace. If not, we could see a repeat of 2010-11.
Gaborik was mostly healthy, only missing 20 games. But he only scored 22 goals and was not the force he was last season.
If Gaborik's shoulder is giving him issues, we could see production along the 2010-11 lines. That would mean more attention on Nash and a weaker power play.
Gaborik's health is critical to this team, and we'll know early on if he's ready to shoulder the load.
Is Henrik Lundqvist Rusty or Rested?
Perhaps the best thing about the lockout was that it gave the chance for Henrik Lundqvist to rest. He's earned it.
He had the best year of his career, posting a 39-18-5 record, with a 1.97 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. These numbers earned him his first career Vezina Trophy.
While we have no doubt that Lundqvist can do it again, the question has to be asked: Did all this time off leave "The King" rusty?
Lundqvist didn't play in Europe during the lockout, and while his workouts were undoubtedly rigorous, they're not a substitute for game action.
With a shortened camp and no preseason, Lundqvist will be thrown into the fire immediately, thrown into a Cup chase. The Rangers are Cup favorites, and Lundqvist is a big reason why.
If he cannot get into domination mode early on, the Rangers will struggle and could even miss the playoffs. But if he starts the season like he ended it, then the Rangers will have no problem.
We won't know until Opening Night, but Rangers fans will be hoping that the lockout made him more focused than ever.
Was Chris Kreider a Flash in the Pan?
Chris Kreider had a remarkable postseason. He stepped into the playoffs without ever playing a regular-season game and flourished, scoring five goals in 18 games. That is the most goals scored before playing a regular-season game in NHL history.
This, understandably, has raised expectations for Kreider. But in Connecticut with the AHL Whale, he has not lived up to them.
Kreider has been very disappointing in the minors, scoring five goals and adding seven assists in 33 games. That won't cut it in the NHL.
Kreider has long been the Rangers top prospect, and it's possible that his struggles are the product of him getting acclimated to the pro lifestyle. Opposing teams are also focusing all their energy on trying to stop him, something that wasn't happening in the NHL.
Still, it's worrisome. Is it the product of larger concerns? Was Kreider just really lucky and had an amazing stretch, but that was it for his career?
We'll find out a lot about what Kreider is made of when the season starts. If he can play like he's capable, then the Rangers will add a big-time scorer. If not, then a lot of people will be asking a lot of questions about him.
Can This Team Really Win It All?
Numerous prognosticators are picking the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup in this shortened season and with good reason.
They had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season and finished within two games of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.
They then added top scorer Rick Nash. Things are looking good in New York.
But can this team really win it all? Will Nash adjust to New York? Will Marian Gaborik be healthy enough? Will Henrik Lundqvist be rusty? Will Chris Kreider contribute like he did in the playoffs?
Will the Rangers make up for the loss of Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko? Will the young defense continue to shutdown opponents? Will they be able to fend off challenges from the Penguins and Bruins?
There are a lot of questions and the only way to answer them is on the ice. Soon enough, we'll find out what this team is made of.
For now, we must debate whether the Rangers really have what it takes to go through the grind that is the Stanley Cup playoffs. And if they can, they will be immortalized forever.
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