The times of this New York Rangers being a dominant force in the hotly contested Metropolitan Division are likely bound for a brief hiatus. The Rangers’ days since the sins of NYC hockey are probably over. Age and a lack of living room under the cap have been in the forefront of a transitional stage for the Blueshirts which may potentially cause the 2016-17 season to be one of disappointment.
Henrik Lundqvist, the cornerstone of the franchise and the goaltender laureate of many a year in Manhattan, is aging and regressing. He is coming off a year in which he published a 2.48 goals-against average — the highest of his glorious career. What’s more, those cap problems forced the team to allow slick defenseman and power-play mainstay Keith Yandle walk, er, skate.
The power play took a double strike as last year’s top goal scorer, Derick Brassard, will also don brand new duds this season after being dealt to the Ottawa Senators for the oft-thrilling yet oft-infuriating Mika Zibanejad.
OK, the roster still showcases some superb talent including Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider, but it is not enough to convince me that this team can hang with the likes of the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders or Washington Capitals — and that’s just within their own branch!
Here’s a look at where the Rangers stand so far as the futures is concerned.
Stanley Cup +2500
The Rangers got to the postseason by finishing third in the Metro with 101 points but were quickly dispatched by the Penguins in five games in the opening round. The penalty-killing unit, which really was the group’s Achilles heel this past year, was ridiculous at best from the series, murdering just 61.9 percent of the penalties.
You play baseball like that, you get removed in five games. What have they done to address those teams needs? Well, not a lot. In +2500 at online book BetOnline, the purchase price will bring some action from diehards, but this bet is a stay-away at this point. Maybe King Henrik regains a bit of the great form and possibly the group makes some motions prior to the deadline, but until then, don’t touch.
Eastern Conference +1200
The Rangers have just two conference championships in their history (1993-94, 2013-14) and contemplating the teams above them and about them in the current NHL climate, they’ll have a tough time winning the East this season.
The Penguins will be back and firing on all cylinders and the Caps will be eager to avenge a disappointing playoff run last year, simply to name a couple, let alone bring up the Atlantic Division.
The +1200 cost is presently long enough to justify a wager on the Rangers within this place.
Metropolitan Division +600
At this cost? No thank you.
The Metropolitan is turning into a poor person’s version of the insanely deep Central. The aforementioned Pens, Caps and Isles will be fighting for the division glory while teams like the Philadelphia Flyers will be nipping at their heels and groups like the Columbus Blue Jackets are in line to surprise.
Season Factors OVER/UNDER 95.5
OK. So this one may not be too out of the realm of chance. The Blueshirts finished with 101 points and also have eclipsed the 95.5 barrier in every year since 2011-12, save to the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
A high-90s total doesn’t mean that you’re winning the branch; it means you’re in a dogfight to sneak in the postseason, which is where the Rangers might be this season. If you believe NYR is postseason-bound, this can be potentially your safest wager about the futures board.
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