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Tuesday - October 25th

Either Josh Jooris (New York Daily News) or Dylan McIlrath are likely to find themselves on waivers when Pavel Buchnevich returns from back spasms.

The team is expected to cut the roster down to 22 players, and as such one of the two will need to be either moved or sent down.

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September 29th, 2017

How many rostered players were on the ice for opening night 2016-17

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John McDonald - 1921

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KEN SCHINKEL
(1959-1967)
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Henrik Lundqvist didn't always get scoring support last season

Room For Optimism - Part I
Posted by Toby Ivey ≡ 2:54:40 PM - October 6, 2010

One of our regulars over in the forums posted a question that is more than fair in valid, and I'll paraphrase it: Why should I be optimistic about the upcoming season? The team is largely the same one that finished the year last time around, and the few new additions seem to have as many question marks as certainties around them.

While the prevailing opinion tends to trend toward the positive right before a season opens, it has not been unusual in the past to have a handful of jaded Blueshirt faithful express these very same doubts.

Going on experience alone, there's plenty to support that point of view. Add in improvement to the line-ups in several teams in the East (Penguins, Devils, Thrashers and Lightning come to mind) and you could easily cross over yourself.

But I'd like, if I may, a chance to provide an alternative view, one that is indeed wholly more optimistic than our hopeful, though cynical friend.

First let's address the matter of improving teams. On paper when you look at the likes of the Devils and Penguins, they have indeed made some key additions. The Devils of course added Russians Ilya Kovalchuk and Anton Volchenkov, as well as Swede Henrik Tallinder. They also installed first year head coach John McLean behind the bench.

They in effect have upgraded their offense, defense and coaching all in one off-season. Throw in Marty Brodeur, and you've got a pretty potent team. Then again, when in recent memory have the Devils not been one of the teams to beat?

Then again... Brodeur is 37, his backup Johan Hedberg also 37 and both have been on the decline in recent seasons. They brought back Jason Arnott - 36 next week - and already have 37 year old Brian Rolston and 35 year old Jamie Langenbrunner in the line-up.

The Penguins meanwhile added Paul Martin and Zbynek Mikhalek to their blueline, replacing Sergei Gonchar and also parting ways with veteran Bill Guerin. The result, a solid looking team without any wings and a Cup winning goaltender who is coming off a less impressive season. Will Martin, who played just 22 games last year, be able to QB the PP? Can the Penguins make do with a relative rag-tag line-up outside of their star centers?

Also in the Atlantic the Flyers are coming off a Stanley Cup run, and added former Ranger Nikolai Zherdev to an already potent offense. Hey, on paper this looks like a great team, until you get to goal and head coach, would you expect anything different in the land of the cheesesteak?

But how can I point to Peter Laviolette as a weakness? Simple, in the previous two teams he's had some initial success which then tailed off in the following seasons. Going to the Cup Finals last year was a great achievement, but this coach apparently has as much shelf life as one Mike Keenan.

In net they'll be without starter Michael Leighton for much of the first month. Not that Leighton has ever started a season as starter. He's big, but not particularly mobile. Those kind of goalies tend to have short runs of success at the NHL level - see Carey Price.

The Islanders lost two of their best scorers from last season...so I'll leave it at that.

Up in the Northeast, the Canadiens and Senators have goaltending issues of their own. Carey Price shapes up as the starter for Montreal, in a city that already has little tolerance for his uneven play. They're still a small team that will have to play other teams closely, so bad goals on their netminder could push them out of the playoff picture.

The Senators don't look nearly as scary either. Volchenkov was a significant loss on defense and Filip Kuba is out injured before the puck has even been dropped. Weak on defense, they're also faced with a netminding duo of Brian Elliot and Pascal Leclaire who looked decidedly second rate during the preseason.

The Bruins could very well be one of the better teams this season, with Tuukka Rask looking formidable in net. The addition of Nathan Horton should help offset the loss of Marc Savard for part or more of the season.

As for the fifth team, Buffalo - they always seem to be in the mix, and with Ryan Miller in net they could be anywhere from 1st to 10th in the conference...although I'd bet they're closer to the top than the bottom.

The southeast division has two teams improving, two teams fading and one that looks the pick of the East. What is there to say about Washington? The Capitals look almost a guarantee for the top spot, if Varlamov can stay healthy.

The Thrashers and Lightning look as if they could be improved with new management, but there's still plenty of uncertainties for either team. The Thrashers in particular retooled with Dustin Byfuglien and Chris Mason being brought in, but they'll begin the year without Ilya Kovalchuk following last season's trade.

New head coach Craig Ramsay is a bit of an unproven quantity, though he could be aided by an intriguing mix on the blueline, and Mason perhaps providing more consistency over former keeper Kari Lehtonen.

In Tampa Stevie Y has built a team that perhaps could rival the Capitals in offense, but may let in as many, if not more goals. A relatively no-name defense, with the combination of Mike Smith and Dan Ellis in net is probably not going to scare anyone...at least not until they can prove something.

As for the Panthers and Hurricanes. It didn't seem possible, but the Panthers appear to continue to lose more trades than they win. Adding Dennis Wideman might help their PP, but it won't help them defensively, and trading away Nathan Horton does nothing to help a team that already struggles offensively. Tomas Vokoun is one of the few bright lights in Sunrise.

Finally the Hurricanes are coming off a disappointing season, and an off-season where they did virtually nothing. More of the same seems reasonable to expect down there.


Profile of the Author:
Has been an active follower of the New York Rangers since the 1996-97 season. Began OutsideTheGarden.com in 2001, and has continued to collect data and provide analysis on the team through to the current day.

 Additional stories from Toby Ivey:


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