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Why the 2015-16 Season is So Important for the Rangers

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


The New York Rangers will open the season tomorrow night in Chicago against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, a title that the Rangers should’ve earned themselves in the last few seasons. They start the season knowing this may be their last chance for a very long time to make that dream a reality, yet even now it may be too late.

It has been a very successful run over the last four years as the Rangers won two division titles, finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference twice, won the President’s Trophy, made three conference finals and made it to one Stanley Cup Final. However, they have not managed to take advantage of this success and win the Stanley Cup.

This is an issue because this run of good form may come to an end soon. The Rangers of the mid-to-late 90s can tell you all about that. The Rangers won the Cup in 1994 and failed to make it back to the final again for 20 years. This streak also included a long playoff-less run from 1998-2006.

The word “window” has been thrown around a lot lately. Will the “window” be closed on the Rangers soon? Is there still a chance for them to make one more good run?  It’s possible. Pittsburgh, Washington, the Islanders and Columbus have all improved and will only continue to do so. The path to the playoffs and to the finals will be tougher than ever.

For starters, this team will have to produce more offensively. Carl Hagelin and Martin St. Louis scored a large chunk of goals for the team last season and neither are on the team anymore. There will be more stress of the shoulders of Emerson Etem, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller, Mats Zuccarello and especially Keith Yandle to produce more offensively.  Staying healthy will be a key too, — the Rangers got lucky last season that goalie Cam Talbot stepped up so mightily after Henrik Lundqvist went down; there’s no Talbot on the bench this year, so if Lundqvist misses significant time the Rangers could be in trouble.

On the plus side, as long as Lundqvist is in and is healthy the Rangers always have a chance. If a 40-year-old Martin Brodeur can guide the Devils to a Stanley Cup Final appearance then Henrik Lundqvist still has a few long playoff runs in him.

If Rick Nash returns to his form from last season and the Rangers find some secondary scoring options, keep the penalties down, stay healthy,  produce on the power play and get offensive production from the fourth line, penalty kill and defense then they’ll have a chance to compete this year and return to last year’s top form.

It will be a long and tough season with all sorts of twists and turns. But if the Rangers do not manage to win the Stanley Cup this year, they could face another long stretch without success. That will hurt even more because of how close they have been.

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