Buckle up, hockey fans; this could be a lot of fun.
The NHL lockout certainly stunk and nobody wants to have to go through it again, but one potentially great result is the 48-game season that beckons. It's going to be a sprint to the finish, but instead of each team having its lanes, they'll be in one big blob. That's what parity has done for the NHL.
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That's where the cliché of throwing darts fits even more this season. One five-game winning streak and you're in great position to make the playoffs. An already relatively unpredictable league is going to be even more crazy this season.
It makes trying to rank all of these teams in the preseason a fool's errand. What can I say, I guess I'm a fool (as I'm sure you'll point out in the comments below).
What's not foolish, however, is being bullish on the Rangers. For years the rallying cry was Henrik Lundqvist needs help. They kept trying, first thinking the addition of Marian Gaborik would get it done. It wasn't until last season when Brad Richards came in and the younger players such as Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan started maturing that they began to reap some dividends. Add Rick Nash and all of a sudden the Blueshirts have the makings of a potent offense.
Time will tell, but the Rangers look to have a quintessential blend of veterans and youth. They have elite goaltending and excellent defense and shot-blocking ability (Dan Girardi is a mad man, I'm convinced). Plus they have a good coach in John Tortorella, who seems to finally have a team that can play the way he wants.
The way this roster looks now could be one of the reasons owner James Dolan seemed to be one of the most anti-lockout owners there was, because his team has as great a chance to win it all as they've had in almost 20 years.
That's why they start the season at No. 2 in our Power Rankings behind only the defending champs from Los Angeles.