The day we have been waiting for has arrived. The NHL season has arrived four months late, but it has arrived nonetheless. The Rangers are in Boston to take on the Bruins tonight, and the projected lines have been set by John Tortorella and his coaching staff:
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Rick Nash
Marian Gaborik-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan
Chris Kreider-Brian Boyle-Taylor Pyatt
Mike Rupp-Jeff Halpern-Brandon Segal
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto-Stu Bickel
As we spoke about yesterday, the organization moved Gaborik to the left side for a number of reasons. This move really opens up the Rangers offensively, as for the first time in a long time, they have solid primary scoring, solid secondary scoring, and solid tertiary scoring. The defensive pairings should look incredibly familiar, as they are the same pairings from last year.
The powerplay units appear to be as follows:
Richards-Callahan-Gaborik-Nash-Del Zotto; Stepan-Boyle-Hagelin-Staal-Girardi
That first unit is one of the deadliest units in hockey right now, with three of the top offensive players in the league. That second unit is a bit surprising, mainly in the lack of Chris Kreider. Torts has a history of not putting too much responsibility on his rookies, but that omission is a bit curious. Of course, these lines aren’t set in stone. It’ll also be interesting to see if McDonagh gets some powerplay time. Suit is a big fan of his offensive potential, and I’m inclined to agree that he might be a better fit over Girardi in the long-term.
The penalty killers have yet to be finalized, but it’s assumed that the duties will be split among the following players:
Forwards: Callahan, Boyle, Halpern, Hagelin, Richards, Stepan, Nash
Defense: McDonagh, Girardi, Staal, Del Zotto, Stralman
Penalty kill units aren’t always set in stone, as it depends on who is in the box and how fresh the legs are. The best penalty killing teams have a great goalie –which the Rangers do– and depth on the killing unit. The Blueshirts will be hurt by the loss of Ruslan Fedotenko and Brandon Prust, but with players like Hagelin and Halpern taking their place, they won’t be missed too much on the ice.
The Rangers are a very deep team with a legit shot at a Stanley Cup run. Their forward lines are deep. They have one of the best top-four defenses in the league. Their penalty kill is stellar. Their goaltending is All-World. On paper, their powerplay is phenomenal as well. This is one of the best teams in the league. On paper. It’s time to turn that “on paper” talk into “on ice” talk.