How The Division Realignment Impacts The Rangers’ Season

As many of you know, this upcoming NHL season is going to be one for the ages. With a shortened season, the uncertainty of fans, and the abyss of the unknown, hockey is going to be divergent. On top of this, the New York Rangers divisional format could also look abnormal. Usually, they would be in the metropolitan division, consisting of eight teams in the metropolitan area. Recently, the league has proposed a division realignment with two new teams replacing the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets. These two teams replacing the Canes and the Jackets will be the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres; sending the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets realigning in another division

The reason for this has to do with the NHL’s safety protocols with the threat of the Coronavirus still looming ahead. By sectionalizing teams into divisions confined to teams in their geographical region, it will be easier to slow the spread and ensure that each team’s facilities are not being exposed to players that are from different divisions. As we progress towards the January 13th start date, changes still could be made, but as of now, this new division reconstruction seems to be a sticking point in the NHL.

 Number One Rule For The Rangers Upcoming Season

At the end of the day, the goal this season is the same as any other season, to win. Great teams find a way to win games through adversity, which is exactly what the Rangers have to do if they want to be successful. This season more than ever will be a testimony to those teams who find a way to push through hardship and ultimately find themselves hoisting the Stanley Cup. That being said, the Rangers need to come firing on all cylinders from start to finish. With only a 56 game season, the Rangers won’t have time to test the waters with their young team. While last season the Rangers had enough time to make a last-ditch effort for the playoffs, time will not be on their side this season.

In a shortened season, all teams will have to solidify their roster and lines if they want to give themselves their best shot at a playoff push. For the Rangers, now that their goalie conundrum and roster is relatively intact, this hopefully won’t be much of a problem for them.

How Can The Rangers Get On Track Early In The Season

The Rangers are a team with a tremendous amount of potential. If you didn’t believe this before the start of last season, I’m hopeful that you believe it now. With many young players on the roster, last season was a perfect test run for The Ranger’s youthful team. However, now is the time to take strides towards the future. A big reason The Rangers will move up in the standings this year is because of player growth. Now that rookies like Adam Fox and Kaapo Kakko have already seen their first season in the NHL, they should be able to develop even more in this upcoming season.

So how can the Rangers give themselves the best chance at starting the season off strong?

Quite frankly, it has to do with chemistry. The sooner this team gets on the ice and practices together, the sooner they will start playing good hockey. After only playing three hockey games together over the course of over nine months, it’s likely the team will not look from the start like a well-greased machine. However, the growing possibility of hub cities like we saw in this year’s playoffs could help teams focus their time on practicing. Without having to fly across the country just to play a game, teams could find themselves getting vital hours in at the practice facilities instead.

Teams To Beat

The Ranger’s division is projected to be confined to eight teams as I said before. These teams being the Bruins, Sabres, Islanders, Capitals, Devils, Flyers, and Penguins. Remember, this is not officially set in stone, but many project the division realignment to look like this. As far as I am concerned, all these teams are beatable. In such a crazy year like this one, you never know which team will come out on top. the Rangers traded away a couple of guys in the off-seasons and resigned some important players. That being said, on paper, the Rangers are set up to be a competitive team. As far as their division goes, all you can do is win. I am not concerned about other teams having an upper hand; in fact, this may be the evenest playing field the NHL has seen in a while.

With so much uncertainty, there is not one team that I can confidently say will make or miss the playoffs. This meaning, it’s any team’s game.

My Takeaway

As each day goes by we get closer to the upcoming season. Thus why it is so important for the Rangers to get on the ice as a team and practice together. Whichever team can get into a “mid-season grove” as early as possible will have the best shot at the Cup. On the contrary, with so many uncontrollable factors intervening in our season, no team is ever out of the hunt. Of course, the shortened season will put a greater emphasis on winning games, but it is not a sprint to see which team will finish 56 games first. The Rangers must ease into the season with their training camp and practices, and then figure out what kind of team they are.

With a different looking team, they must figure out how they are going to play, and what works for them.

Keys For The Rangers Upcoming Season

After they establish their team and lines, that’s when they must put the pedal to the metal. For you fans, Tdon’t worry about what other teams are doing. In my opinion, we have the hardest division in the NHL.  That does not mean we can’t be competitive, but we must remember that the focus should be on our team, not others.  In simplest terms, The Rangers need to stick to three rules: observe, adapt, and execute. Take the time, in the beginning, to recognize what the new circumstances will bring to the game. From there, makes changes in coaching style and lines to adapt to the shortened season. Finally, execute by winning games, and subtly adjusting the style of play to the progressive ways in which teams develop for success.

When it’s all said and done, I believe there is a good chance the Rangers find themselves yet again in the playoffs. Until then, we must sit back, and let everything unfold.

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Angus McGillicutty

Bring back Messier!!!

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