The New York Rangers will kick off training camp in about two weeks. The Blueshirts have some important issues to address as David Quinn takes the helm.
Head coach David Quinn and his New York Rangers are about to embark on a new journey together. There is plenty of excitement and energy as with any NHL team this time of year, but these specific Blueshirts have some questions that may not be able to be answered until the season begins.
With so much uncertainty around the team dynamics, Quinn and his staff will have to figure things out on the fly as they prepare for opening night on Oct. 4.
How will David Quinn deal with opening night on Broadway?
The players are not the only ones who will be nervous come opening night. For the first time in his coaching career, Quinn will get to experience a New York Ranger opening night at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden from behind the bench.
Quinn and his staff will have to deal with the butterflies as his team hits the ice against a tough opponent in the Nashville Predators. The excitement of being a head coach in New York will need to be contained as he will be dealing with a lot of pressure to bring the Blueshirts back to its winning ways, hopefully, sooner rather than later.
Will Quinn have his team ready to go when the puck is dropped?
Too many times last season the opposition scored a goal within the first five minutes of the opening face-off. Quinn must get his team prepared to play when they come onto the ice. The team cannot afford to be playing from behind as they did last season. They need to be the aggressor when the game begins, taking the action into the offensive end which will help keep those high scoring chances against we saw last season down to a minimum.
This will allow the defense to play better as a unit and will cause fewer shots on goal for the Rangers goaltenders.
Who is the leader of this team?
The Rangers traded away their captain, Ryan McDonagh, at the trade deadline last season. Who now will be the one player the team can look to when they need to get a jump on things? Who will lead them on the bench, in the locker room, and on the ice?
There are not many who can take this title and run with it. Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello or Brady Skjei are a few names that come to mind.
Another route could be the way of the Vegas Golden Knights who went with four assistants and no captain. I don’t think that would work this season as the team is going to be loaded with younger players with little NHL experience. Providing something drastic occurs in training camp I would think a captain would not be named until the first quarter of the season he been completed.
This will be one of the toughest and most important questions for the Rangers. Over the last two seasons, the team has gone with the scoring by committee program. The team hasn’t really had that one big, defined scorer and instead has relied on a bunch of 20 goal scorers to lead the way. This is how the season will start for New York as the organization has not improved on the scoring situation on the current roster of players. It is almost the same team that ended the season in Philadelphia.
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The team is still waiting to see if Vladislav Namestnikov can be the scorer he was when the team acquired him from Tampa Bay last season. Kevin Hayes (an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year) had a career year in goals scored last season with 25 hope to improve on that this season.
Chris Kreider scored 22 goals last season and that was with a blood clot issue that kept him out of the lineup for about 10 weeks. Mats Zuccarello was the team’s point leader, as the playmaker on the team he needs to feed the puck to players who can finish, the Rangers need to find some more of those if they don’t want to waste Zuccarello’s talent in what could be his last year in New York.
Which Henrik Lundqvist show's up this year?
Another year in New York for the King, another year older between the pipes. Henrik Lundqvist will be entering his 14th season with New York and this may very well be the last season that he won’t be looking over his shoulder to see if the backup goalie will be coming in to replace him. The King had 26 wins last year on a bad defensive Rangers team. That came 26 losses and only the second time in his career where he did not record 30 wins.
That can change this year as the defense in front of him should play better. A new coaching style and hopefully a more patient Lundqvist should provide the tools to get him back over the 30 win mark. If Quinn can find a way to limit his games played to around 58-60, the King should be fresh enough to lead the Rangers into the postseason, if they actually find a way to get into the playoffs and make another run at a Stanley Cup Final.
Several important questions to be answered as a season begins full of questions with little answers. The Rangers and their new head coach may be able to solve some of these riddles as preseason concludes, yet they know the real test begins on opening night.
The Blueshirts will be ready to play, and along the way, they will be ready to knock off every answer to every question that is asked of them.