Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rangers the favorites in the East?
Rangers General Manager Glen Sather made the move that all the Rangers fans wanted to see this off-season, an elite scorer in a Rangers sweater. 

With the acquisition of Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Rangers bulked up an offense that was less than stellar last season. The cost to bring Nash to the Rangers was Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first round draft pick. 

Dubinsky was a fan favorite and could spark the Rangers with his speed and energy. Unfortunately Dubinsky had one of his worst offensive seasons scoring only 10 goals and recording 34 points for the year. Dubinsky's playoff performance was not much different. Dubi failed to find the back of the net and tallied only two assists in nine games. 

Artem Anisimov was a consistent third or fourth liner who put up respectable numbers for the Rangers. Anisimov netted 10 goals and recorded 30 assists in 79 games for the Blueshirts. 

As hard as it is to see these two players leave, it was obvious the Rangers offense needed serious help, especially the power play. 

Last season, Nash posted 30 goals and 59 points for the NHL worst Blue Jackets. Nash has scored 40 or more goals twice, and has scored 30 or more seven times. 

With Nash on Broadway, it is hard to believe that the Rangers are not the favorite coming out of the Eastern Conference in the 2012-13 season. The Blueshirts are coming off a remarkable season that ended in the Eastern Conference Finals, somewhere no one thought they would be at the beginning. 

Adding a 30 plus goal scorer to a roster with players like Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Ryan Callahan, has made the Rangers offense lethal instead of lacking. 

Of course there are teams in the East that can be considered favorites like the Pittsburgh Penguins, barring any injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and the Boston Bruins. The Philadelphia Flyers have suffered severely along the blue line, and could not land Nashville's Shea Weber when the Predators matched their offer sheet. The New Jersey Devils saw their captain Zach Parise leave for Minnesota during free agency, and were content just to re-sign their young talent, and Martin Brodeur is 40 year old goaltender. 

The Rangers seem to have found the missing piece that would make them a complete team, and a team that can make a Stanley Cup run. The added offense will help take the pressure off of Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist, and will not force Hank to make highlight reel saves game after game. 

The Rangers are a well balanced team that have already shown that they can shut teams down with their defense, and now added the necessary offense to make them a favorite to repeat as Atlantic Division Champions, and the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

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