5 things to achieve for success
Bruno Rouby, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

New York Rangers head coach David Quinn needs a few things to go his way in order to have a successful season.

Frank Curto

With Opening night on Thursday against the Nashville Predators, New York Rangers head coach David Quinn will need several things to happen in order to consider the 2018-19 season a success.

Obviously, winning hockey games is the top priority for Rangerstown and in order for the club to get back to its winning ways, Quinn will need to rely on some different factors to have a successful first season in New York.

Here are five things that need to occur for the team to win some hockey games and reach the postseason.

1. The defense needs to be stronger

The Rangers defense needs to play better in their own end. It’s not just about the defenseman, but about the unit of five on the ice. The forwards have to get back in their own end, backchecking and forcing the opposing teams into giving the puck up. The defensemen have to make sure they always have a man in front of the Rangers goal. Too many times last season the opposition was able to score easy goals standing alone in front of Lundqvist. The defense needs to be better a the beginning of games and then continue to adjust as the game progresses. Quinn recognized last years issues and thinks he has the right players to improve from last year.

He will need players such as Brendan Smith and Brady Skjei to step up their play and be the leaders they are expected to be. Veteran Marc Staal will have to show why the coaching staff kept him instead of buying him out last summer as all eyes will be on him early to see if he can keep up with the speed that he will be facing daily.

2. Mika Zibanejad has to lead the Power Play

The Rangers power play ranked in the top 15 for most of the season last year. As the teams scoring will be suspect as they do not have a reliable, big time scorer, the power play will be the team’s best chance to light the lamp. Mika Zibanejad along with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is capable to get the power play scoring big goals. Consistency is key to a productive power play which will lead to more scoring opportunities and wins. The Rangers can also gain some valuable momentum during games even if they are not successful on the power play which could lead to scoring opportunities. The power play

3. Henrik Lundqvist needs to be the King of old

The King will have his toughest season yet. Henrik Lundqvist will need to be on top of his game, and at the same time remain patient as his young team learns through their mistakes. The 36-year-old must avoid the slumps that he has encountered over the past few seasons so that the team will not have to rely on rookie Alexandar Georgiev. The rookie backup is still proving himself and may not be able to carry the weight of the team should Hank begin to struggle at any point in the season.

4. Lindy Ruff: The team's secret weapon

The veteran coach could be this season’s secret weapon. As David Quinn becomes acquainted with the joys and perils of his first NHL season he will need to rely heavily on Ruff’s experience and knowledge. Ruff is going to have to be a “concierge” to Quinn, guiding him along the way, suggesting strategies to deal with opposing star players and helping Quinn handle some tough personalities on the team. Ruff has been around the NHL for a very long time and Quinn will be wise to utilize all he can from Ruff. Picture Don Corleone and Tom Higgins but in a hockey atmosphere instead of a mafia business. This could be a one-two punch some teams don’t see coming with playoff results in the horizon.

5. Head coach David Quinn

Quinn has been a coach in a successful college program but can he bring that college formula to the NHL level? Will Quinn be able to push the right buttons to get the most out of his players such as Jimmy Vesey and Vinni Lettieri? The organization took a gamble hiring a college coach to lead the Blueshirts, and he will be tested early on. The team begins the year with three games in four nights and the playing time of Henrik Lundqvist will be questioned immediately. Add to that, he is carrying eight defensemen and will have to evaluate on a nightly manner who the best top six will be.

The chemistry of the forwards’ lines will need to be evaluated during games and he will need to recognize when adjustments need to be made to keep up with the opposition every game day. The game is more than just calling out different line changes, Quinn will have to have an open communication with players who are used to getting no positive feedback as was the case from their previous head coach.

The New York Rangers journey into the David Quinn era is set to begin. The NHL may not have high expectations of this hockey club, but the players themselves believe this can be a good year. Success is more than just wins and losses. It’s about accountability, respect, and responsibility.

These areas will all form the success David Quinn demands of his team and himself.

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A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at Nyrfc12@gmail.com