Hockey season is here once again, and this means the return of the New York Rangers. Even if you aren’t into hockey, you may want to watch this team, since the chances are very good they’ll be making big news this season.
Here are 10 reasons to be excited about the New York Rangers:
10. They’re Eastern Conference Champions
Last season the Rangers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals! Although they were defeated 4 games to 1 in that series, there is much to be proud of.
Yes, Los Angeles is a good team. They’re big, strong, and well-coached. But the Rangers gave the Kings a lot of trouble. Two of the 5 games were partly decided by bad calls from referees, drastically changing the dynamic of the series.
Eastern Conference Champions are worthy of your respect. That banner validates the Blueshirts as belonging to the NHL’s Big Boys Club.
9. The Rookie: Anthony Duclair
Big, fast, and talented, Anthony Duclair was so impressive in the pre-season that the team pulled strings to keep the 19-year-old on the roster. He’ll play on a dynamic line with JT Miller and Lee Stempiak.
He’s poised to be a huge star. Catch his first few games.
8. The Coach: Alain Vigneault
Before Alain Vigneault came along, the Rangers were spinning their wheels. Under John Tortorella, they weren’t getting far in the playoffs, and his abrasive nature had worn thin. Tortorella lost his job and went to Vancouver while their former coach, Vigneault, came to Broadway.
The results speak for themselves. The re-energized Rangers made it to the Finals while the Canucks missed the post-season completely.
7. The Grinder: Dominic Moore
This writer has been a fan of Dominic Moore for years. A role-playing sparkplug, Moore was a journeyman, finally finding a home in Madison Square Garden.
He hadn’t played the previous season due to the tragic death of his wife. The gritty Moore returned and left his heart on the ice for all to see.
He was integral to the team’s playoff drive last year, and will be on a hard-nosed line with rough and tumble Ryan Malone and tough-as-nails Tanner Glass. Look out for them!
6. The Sniper: Martin St. Louis
St. Louis was a risky trade for the Rangers as they lost popular former Captain Ryan Callahan in the process. But the Blueshirts needed a scoring forward and the speedy St Louis fills that need.
Martin provided the Rangers with a huge boost in the playoff stretch, returning to play with the team the day after his mother’s death. The Blueshirts rallied behind him and St Louis gained enormous respect from teammates and fans alike. Being made an Alternate Captain rewarded his efforts.
5.The Captain: Ryan McDonagh
He’s the new Captain of the Rangers. He’s cool, calm, and collected on the Blueshirt blueline. He shuts down the other team’s stars.
He smiles through a mangled and bloody face to speak for the team. He’s the epitome of the poise and leadership the Rangers need.
4. The Power Forward: Rick Nash
In previous seasons, Rick Nash has been a bit of a letdown. The big power forward has yet to meet the expectations NYC had for him.
Making the Finals last season was a huge wakeup call for Nash. He has returned to the team trimmed down to fighting weight, and is flying under the media radar.
3. The Marketing: Awesome Nicknames!
Oh come on, the Rangers have the best nicknames in all of hockey! Nicknames give players energy and the fans something to chant. The Blueshirts own this!
Even the new guy, Anthony Duclair has a great one; The Duke! All hail The Duke of New York!
How about Ryan McDonagh? Captain Mac Truck! A combination of superhero and badass! Only one nickname is better than that; The King!
Oh, and speaking of…
2. The Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist
The King himself, Henrik Lundqvist, is arguably the best goalie in hockey. An NHL team cannot win without a good goalie, and Lundqvist’s talent is unquestioned. He’s won games for NYC all by himself. If a team must be built from the net out, there is no better foundation than The King!
1.The Team: Never Say Die Attitude
There is no better motivation for a team than making the Stanley Cup Finals. The Rangers know what it takes now, know they can get there again, and that’s how Championship Teams are made.
Many teams storm back to the Finals to win it all after previously falling short. That’s how the Edmonton Oilers and Wayne Gretzky built a dynasty in the 80’s.
The last team to do that was the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by superstar Sidney Crosby. That team only recently fell apart, getting eliminated from the playoffs after being up 3 games to 1.
The team that stormed back to beat them? The New York Rangers.
This team does not give up. They have the speed, the skill, the toughness, and the heart. They’ve altered this year’s roster for the better. Many sports pundits are calling for the Blueshirts to win it all this year. It’s not an unreasonable prediction.
It’s been twenty years since New York was The King of Hockey, and so New York’s Hockey King and the rest of the Rangers are going to change that.
This article was written by a regular Big Appled contributor, Chad R. MacDonald.