Here, we do the work for you, telling you the must-see games and breaking down the new divisions. In addition, we'll look at the toughest stretch of the season and give you a projected finish for the Rangers in the Eastern Conference.
Read on to learn the ins and outs of the Rangers 2013-14 schedule.
November 19 vs. Boston Bruins
This is one of the first major tests of the season for the Rangers in addition to being a rematch of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
While the Bruins added Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson, the Rangers largely stayed put, adding just a few depth players.
If the Rangers play well against the Bruins, then it will be a good sign that they can contend deep in the playoffs.
If they're blown out of the water, then it could be an indicator of a rough season.
January 8 at Chicago Blackhawks
Yet another litmus test for the Rangers. Much like their game against the Bruins, this game will give the Rangers an idea of where they stand in the middle of the season.
It will also be the first time the Rangers play the defending champs. A win could mean that the Rangers can compete with the best.
January 29 vs. New York Islanders
This game will be the second of two played at Yankee Stadium. While the first game against the Devils on January 26th will be exciting, this game is a must-see. The Islanders are one of the league's up-and-coming teams, and they could be primed for a long playoff run.
The natural rivalry, the expected quality of play and the tremendous scene at Yankee Stadium should make this is a game you simply cannot miss.
The Rangers will be part of the Metropolitan division, and it will feature these teams:
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- New Jersey Devils
- New York Islanders
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Washington Capitals
If anything, this new division is harder for the Rangers. Besides perennial contenders like the Penguins, the Rangers will face a new playoff rival in the Capitals. The two teams played a hard-fought series last season.
In addition, the Columbus Blue Jackets are one of the more improved teams in the league. With the addition of Nathan Horton, as well as a full season of Marian Gaborik, the Jackets are primed for a playoff spot.
In fact, the Rangers will now have to fight with a few more teams for a playoff berth. The Jackets will be fighting for the bottom few spots, as will the Islanders, Flyers and Capitals.
The only weak teams are the Hurricanes and Devils, who will probably be among the worst teams in the league next season. Every other team is a contender, and the Rangers will have to scratch and claw to make the postseason.
February 27-March 9
This stretch will probably determine if the Rangers make the playoffs or not.
It starts right after the Olympic break, where the Rangers could have as many as eight players participating.
The first game will be against the Chicago Blackhawks, the defending champs. From there, they will take on the rival Philadelphia Flyers. The very next day, they play the incredibly difficult Boston Bruins.
After that, they play the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that should be one of the better ones in the Eastern Conference. Following a relatively easy matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers finish this stretch against the Detroit Red Wings.
That's five games against playoff contenders in 11 days, right after a grueling Olympic tournament which will feature some of the best and most important Rangers.
Not only will this be a great test for the team, it could also decide if they will be in the playoffs. If they can do well in this stretch, they should easily make the playoffs. But if they lose all five games against contenders, then the Rangers could quickly fall out of the playoff picture.
Projected Eastern Conference Finish: 9th
There will be probably 11 teams fighting for eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, including the Rangers.
Because the top three teams per division are guaranteed spots, this will also make it harder for the Rangers to grab a spot. The Red Wings, Bruins, Canadiens, Senators and Maple Leafs are all in the Atlantic Division.
Thus, the Rangers will be competing with the New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers as well as the Senators and Maple Leafs for the final few spots.
While anything could happen—injuries and trades in particular—at the moment, the Rangers seem to be on the outside looking in. Columbus improved markedly, and the Islanders are one of the most promising young teams in the league.
Those two teams are ahead of the Rangers, meaning that the Blueshirts will be spending the postseason on the sidelines.