Newsday's Steve Zipay looks at five key questions that the Rangers face before their regular-season opener Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
1. How long will it take to adjust to the new coaching staff?
After four years of John Tortorella's tactics, probably a month, at least. Training camp was filled with travel, and the first nine games are on the road. The roster was just completed Sunday, so coach Alain Vigneault and the players are adapting. |
2. Can the Rangers create enough offense up front?
The Blueshirts were tied for 15th in goals last year. They are set in net and with a formidable top six on defense, but need a revival from veteran Brad Richards, a 40-goal season from Rick Nash, continued progress from Derek Stepan and help from Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello, who are playing full seasons in New York. And the ineffective power play must improve. |
3. How effective can Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin be after shoulder surgeries?
Unclear. Callahan is expected to return within a week or two. Hagelin, on long-term injured reserve, will miss at least 10 games. |
4. Can the Rangers be successful after realignment?
The new, tougher Metropolitan Division is the former Atlantic Division, plus Carolina, Washington and Columbus, with only the top three teams guaranteed a postseason slot. The rest are in the wild-card mix. Detroit has also shifted to the East. |
5. How will the 18-day Olympic break impact the team?
Seven or eight key Rangers, including Henrik Lundqvist, will represent their countries in February and have to jump right back into the NHL schedule. Players remaining behind cannot practice the first week. |