Guest Blogger: Patrick Hoffman - from Kuklas Korner and on Twitter
Heading into the 2009-2010 NHL regular season, there are lots of questions surrounding the New York Rangers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone because with GM Glen Sather at the helm, there are always going to be many questions and not enough answers.
It might turn out that the answers to questions about this year’s Blueshirts might actually be the keys to their success. With that in mind, let’s take a look at just a few of the questions and how there answers can determine the fate of the 2009-2010 Rangers.
Question: Will Marian Gaborik remain healthy for the entire season?
Answer: In a lot of Rangers’ fans hearts, this is the main question that fans want answered and they want it answered well. When healthy, Gaborik can be a dominant player. In just 17 games last season, Gaborik posted 23 points in 17 games and for his career, has 437 points in 502 games. He’s got tremendous speed, a quick release, not afraid to take the puck to the net, and can help out on the power play.
While that’s great, it’s not going to matter if he ends up spending half the season injured. In 2006-07, he played 48 games. As mentioned above, he played in just 23 games last season and he hasn’t played remotely close to a full season since the 2007-08 season when he played in 77 games. Again, if he’s healthy, he will put a lot of points up on the board. If he’s not, Ranger fans will once again be clamoring for Sather’s head.
Question: How will the team’s power play look?
Answer: As I’m sure many of you knowledgeable Ranger fans know, the team’s power play last season was awful. They had trouble getting the puck to the net, they passed the puck more often than they shot it and they constantly looked for the perfect play, which was never there. Normally, most teams like to keep it simple on the power play and that usually results in quality scoring chances and goals. However, last year’s Rangers failed to generate much of both.
Going into this season, both Sather and head coach John Tortorella believe that the club’s power play will be much improved. Sather and Co. are hoping that by having a healthy Gaborik, newly acquired Ales Kotalik, hard worker Christopher Higgins and maybe some help on the point from 25-year-old defenseman Matt Gilroy or even someone like Bobby Sanguinetti or Michael Del Zotto, the power play will come out of the cellar and be one of the top team’s in that area.
It’ll certainly be a process and there will be lots of experimenting by Tortorella but one has to think “can it really get much worse?”
Question: Who will be the team’s No. 1 center?
Answer: Ranger fans have been pondering this question all offseason long and with good reason. It’s obvious that Gaborik is going to need to play with someone who can get him the puck, go into the corners and dig the puck out for him, find him in the slot or flying down the wing, etc.
Here on PuckCentral.net, many of you believe that role should go to Brandon Dubinsky, who has yet to sign with the team (hopefully happening soon). He works hard, he’s not afraid to shoot the puck, he had success with Jaromir Jagr in that role and head coach John Tortorella likes him.
I’m not sure where I stand on this but I believe that for now, Dubinsky should get a shot and could end up being more than a capable first line player.
Thanks to Declan/PuckCentral.net for allowing me to post my thoughts. You can find my work by visiting my blog on Kuklas Korner.