It's time for another Preseason Preview. This is where we check out the teams going into the season.
Now, the New York Rangers.
Team M.O.: These guys like to be a complete team that has the best player for every role. Their scoring lines and defensive pairings are balanced, their starting goaltender is the best at being a starting goaltender, they've got the best agitator in the league and have one of the best, though definitely aging, enforcers in the league. The problem is often related to chemistry, player maintenance, and whether or not the players can accept and excel in their roles.
Last Season: They took the Capitals to seven games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals before being eliminated. They lost the series because they couldn't keep their emotions in line and they'll need to harness that energy better if they're to even think of the playoffs this season.
Offense: Marion Gaborik left the Minnesota Wild to provide the team with a first line winger who's talented yet extremely fragile. The group of Chris Drury, Christopher Higgins, Ryan Callahan, Vaclav Prospal, Ales Kotalik, and Brandon Dubinsky (still an RFA at this time) should be able to score by committee. Sean Avery may be tabbed as a third liner, but he could breakout into a scoring role if he can find consistency with his offensive game. The team added Don Brashear after Colton Orr left for Toronto. The team doesn't have a whole lot of proven NHL depth beyond that, but they'll probably have to settle on using unpolished players like the newly acquired Enver Lisin to fill out the roster spots due to their cap issues.
Defense: The top-four defensemen on this squad have the tools to be dominant but need to put it together. While this especially holds true for Wade Redden, neither Marc Staal, Michael Rosival, or Dan Girardi were able to finish with a positive plus/minus rating. Two of the remaining three spots will likely be filled by a rookie power play specialist and rookie depth defender, so they should take the third spot and give it to Chris Chelios if he'll do it for the minimum (dude, you'll be 48 when the season's done, just take it.)
Goaltending: Hendrik Lundqvist may be temperamental at times, but he loves his team and will throw them on his back if it will lead them to victory. Stephen Valiquette has finally established himself as an NHL backup and is doing well in that role. The goaltending is as good as it's gonna get for the Rangers and they have a solid prospect in Matt Zaba should something happen to these guys.
Expectations: On paper without injuries this looks like a playoff team. If they have to go through any serious adversity though, particularly with Lundqvist, this will not be a good season for them.