New York Rangers home opener shows the rebuild might not be so bad after all
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It was an impressive showing from the New York Rangers in their home opener, making this rebuild a bit more exciting. 

Dom Renna

The word rebuild is always a scary one when you play in New York. That was the word the New York Rangers were using this year. A word that some thought would mean the team might not be competitive at all this year.

But, after the clubs’ 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators Thursday night, the feeling around this Rangers team changed a bit. It was no longer a feeling of this is going to be a long season, a feeling of hey we might lose some games, but we might be in them till the end.

The fact of the matter is that the Blueshirts fought until the very end in their season opener. The went toe-for-toe with the best team in the National Hockey League during the 2017-18 season. Yes, this sounds like an overreaction to what was a well-played game by New York. But, the Blueshirts showed us that this is not going to be a get blown out on a nightly basis type of rebuild.

It Starts With Henrik Lundqvist

If you were worried about how Henrik Lundqvist was going to perform this season, his first game tells you that it is going to be pretty strong.

Lundqvist looked like vintage Lundqvist in the opener stopping 30 shots against a Predators team that was on the attack. He bailed his team out facing a few odd-man rushes coming up with the big save when it mattered most. He practically played a perfect game from the crease. The only blemishes were two perfectly placed shots that he had no chance of stopping.

Having that type of Lundqvist in net will allow the Rangers to stay in almost every game that he appears in this season. Nothing new for Blueshirt fans, but it gives his young team the confidence to go out there and make some mistakes knowing they won’t get hurt every time.

Should Lundqvist keep up that type of game, the rebuild will not only get fast-tracked but, won’t be as brutal.

Skill Can Win Games

As much of structure is an important part in winning games, sometimes your skill can make up for structure breakdowns.

Make no mistake, this Rangers team has plenty of skill to get by. Just look at the pass from Filip Chytil to Jesper Fast from Thursday’s game. Not every player can make that kind of pass, and the Rangers have several players that are capable of doing so.

Not only is Chytil out there showing his skill, but you also have the Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Kevin Hayes, Mika Zibanejad, and Ryan Spooner. All five players are capable of creating plays and finding the back of the net when need be.

When they click, the Rangers have enough skill to compete on any given night up front. It is just a matter of being sound defensively which will take time for this young team to learn. But, seeing young players showcase their potential at the NHL level is something that will help Ranger fans get through this year of rebuilding.

Now, no-one is saying that this rebuild is over after one solid played game in the season opener. That would be a big overstatement and a ridiculous one at best. What we did learn is that this rebuild doesn’t have to be as bad as we all thought it would be.

Just think back to how the New York Yankees built their team over the last few seasons. They were competitive while re-tooling, now they are hunting for a championship in 2018. Why can’t the Rangers be like that?

And who is to say they aren’t trying to be like that?

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Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.