Gerard Gallant 2

October Outlook

Even with a shortened off-season, it still feels an age away since the Rangers last played a meaningful game.  This is no longer Jeff Gorton’s team, and the expectation is that Gerard Gallant will lead this team back to the playoffs after a four year absence – excluding the play-oin 0-3 drubbing by Carolina in 2019-20.

Looking ahead to the first month of the season, the Rangers look like they may have ended up with some favorable draws, which may allow the team to get off to a quickish start if they’re able to execute.

Overall the month of October features nine games, six of them on the road, and just two of them against Metropolitan Division opponents.  While the travel can make it tough, it might help the Rangers bond a little quicker, especially given what some of their opponents are dealing with.

October 13th – RANGERS at CAPITALS
First up will be the Washington Capitals, a team that the Rangers went 3-4-1 against last year.  You’d expect the team to be pretty hyped to play the team that helped catalyze the changes we’ve seen through this off-season.  The biggest question will be whether the team can keep a lid on their emotions, or allow the Capitals to “capitalize” on the man advantage.  Already missing Niklas Backstrom to a hip injury, they also have a slight risk of being withotu Alex Ovechkin who is listed as day to day, but probably will play.

Prediction: Rangers WIN

October 14th – RANGERS v STARS
No rest for the weary, as the Rangers will have to back up again the following night in their home opener when they host the Dallas Stars, who will open their season in New York.  As emotional as opening night might be, the return to the Garden against the Stars represents one of those games where they’ll need the crowd to help bring the energy.  Dallas missed the playoffs last year, but are largely healthy for this encounter, and if the Rangers win opening night, this could be a let down game for them.

Prediction: Rangers loss

October 16th – RANGERS at CANADIENS
Game 3 sees them up in Canada to face the Montreal Canadiens.  A tough place to play, but less so this time around given the number of injuries Les Habitants are suffering right now.  Already without Shea Weber, the team has now lost their goaltender Carey Price and are unlikely to be with UFA signing Mike Hoffman.  A slew of other injuries to depth players, mean the Rangers will be facing an understrength side that should allow them to have a better than even chance of taking this one.

Prediction: Rangers WIN

October 18th – RANGERS at MAPLE LEAFS
The fourth game in six nights will really test the Rangers’ stamina early on, and they have to do it in Toronto against a pretty strong line-up.  While Auston Matthews will miss the first three games of the season, he’s projected to be back for the Rangers, and this will make it a harder proposition.  While the Leafs are by no means unbeatable, the combination of a compacted start to the season and early season ups and downs make this match-up a tough one.

Prediction: Rangers loss

October 21st – RANGERS at PREDATORS
Life on the road continues into Nashville, where the Rangers will meet a team in transition.  With Pekka Rinne retiring over the Summer, and Ryan Ellis traded to Philadelphia (in a three-way trade), the Predators are in a state of transition, an oppotunity that the Rangers could take advantage of.  The Rangers have done okay in Nashville, with an 8-5-0 all time record, and winning their last two there.  I think they’ll make it three in a row.

Prediction: Rangers WIN

October 23rd – RANGERS v SENATORS
Back to Canada for a visit to the nation’s capital and a date with the Senators.  Ottawa is about a year or so behind the Rangers rebuild, and are generally projected to miss the playoffs again this year.  With star winger Brady Tkachuk still without a contract on the cusp of the season, the Rangers might have the advantage again of meeting the Sens without a key player.  Not an easy win, but the Rangers should be able to win this one on talent

Prediction: Rangers WIN

October 23rd – RANGERS v FLAMES
Home again for just the second time in the month, the Rangers play host to the Calgary Flames on the 25th.  Calgary missed the playoffs last season, and lost their defensive leader Mark Giordano to the Seattle Kraken over the Summer.  It’s another opportunity for the Rangers to pick on a team that is trying to find it’s identity

Prediction: Rangers WIN

October 23rd – RANGERS v BLUE JACKETS
Four nights later and it’s the Columbuis Blue Jackets who’ll be visiting MSG, and the Jackets are definitely a team in rebuild mode.  Having dealt defenseman Seth Jones over the Summer, the Blue Jackets also have moved on from John Tortorella and enter the season as definite playoff underdogs.  Often a tough team, they theoretically shouldn’t be a match for this Rangers line-up, and as such the Rangers have a chance to make it four from four.

Prediction: Rangers WIN

October 23rd – RANGERS at KRAKEN
The month wraps up with the Rangers first ever visit to Seattle to face the expansion Kraken.  The Kraken are a complete unknown at this point, with a roster that has been together for only a few weeks at this point.  This should allow the Rangers to finish the month strongly with their fifth straight win.

Prediction: Rangers WIN

So there you have it, on paper the Rangers should go 7-2-0, but as we already know the difference between the best teams in the league and the worst, is far narrower than we might project, especially in one-off games like these.  It’s probably more likely the team will go 5-4-0, or 6-3-0 and could even start with a 1-3-0 record.

The dearth of division games in the first month, means that it’s going to be up to the Rangers to manufacture some energy, especially against the four Western Conference teams they’ll play.

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