As far back as I can remember I have always been a New York Rangers fan. As the team prepares for its 91st season in the National Hockey League, here are some ramblings of my expectations for this team.
Mark Messier and the New York Rangers hoisted the Stanley Cup at the Garden 23 years ago.
I was 24 years-old and vividly remember driving my girlfriend (now my wife) home that night and how absolutely crazy the streets were. That night ended a 54-year Stanley Cup drought for the team and its fans. At that point, everyone, myself included, thought “we are going to win a few more of these.”
Well, maybe not. 23 years seems like a long time since winning a championship and…well, it is. So as I look at this team today, composed of young and exciting players and weathered veterans, I wonder, is it fair to jump out and say the Rangers will win the Cup this year? Do they appear strong enough to accomplish one of the most difficult feats in any of the four major sports?
It’s such a hard thing to feel out. In one case, I am a fan. Some would say as a crazy fan during the hockey season, the hierarchy of importance is as follows: Family, Rangers and everything else. My kids and wife would say that order changes once the playoffs begin. I truly bleed Ranger Blue…heck, the first song I ever sang to my kids during their first weeks of life on this earth was the “Potvin Sucks” chant we hear at every home Rangers’ game.
Then there is the writer and fan blogger in me. This is where I need to be subjective. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do in some instances. When the Rangers are playing great hockey and scoring impressive power play goals (it DOES happen, don’t laugh), it’s easy to pen these articles on ESNY. It becomes more enjoyable to communicate back and forth on my Ranger Proud blog on Facebook. All is good, correct?
Then the hard part of this writing and blogging comes along. You know, when the team drops its fifth straight game…when Henrik Lundqvist couldn’t stop a puck to save his life and the fans are all over any minute detail in my writing…those times. These are the hard parts of this gig: Staying objective and being truthful no matter how much you know it will cause controversy.
I watched Sam Rosen and John Davidson call many Rangers games and the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. The one thing I admired most is how honest and objective they were in regards to the Rangers’ team play on any given night. I try to do the same.
Expectations are high every season. Whenever the Rangers are set to kick off the year, we read previews and predictions through all forms of medias. I tend not to read many of these (but the Elite Sports Preview for the Rangers is epic, don’t miss it) because I’d rather just wait and see what happens on the ice. Yet I do have my own expectations for this club. High expectations.
The Rangers have improved themselves dramatically on the blue line from last year. The additions they have made, I believe, makes them a top-five team when it comes to the defensive unit. This has to help Henrik Lundqvist and the team register more wins, wouldn’t you agree? On paper, the Rangers defense is as solid as they have been in many seasons. Big, fast, strong on the puck: that should be fun to watch on the ice. I expect Lundqvist to have a great season because, you know, “his window is closing” or something like that. Open or close, just keep the biscuit out of the basket, Hank!
Then there is my expectations of the forwards. Whether as a fan, writer or blogger, this is one of those tough parts I was writing about earlier. The team doesn’t have that one big scorer. As was last year, scoring by committee is going to be the method they turn to. To tell you the truth, I am not sure if that will really work out.
Hockey is such a streaky sport and if our guys all slump around the same time, it is going to be tough to win, no matter how good the defense is. Then again, the team could surprise us all and score a lot of goals like they did at the beginning of last year.
Expectations are a tough game. So as a fan and writer, what do I expect? I would expect this team to compete every night in front of the greatest fans in the world. I expect them to make the playoffs. I always expect the Rangers to battle for the Stanley Cup. I mean, what fan doesn’t have expectations of winning the Cup in October? Everyone feels that loyalty to their team as the season begins.
My expectations are the same as writer, blogger and fan. One game at a time in the regular season. Once the playoffs start, its the first to 16 wins. We got this, right?