New York Rangers play 2010-2011 home opener tonight at Madison Square Garden
Tonight the New York Rangers open the home portion of their 2010-2011 schedule, facing the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7pm. Last year they finished with a disappointing 18-17-6 (wins-losses-overtime losses) record at home, which kept them one point out of postseason contention after making the playoffs for four consecutive years. While the Rangers’ roster is largely the same as last year’s, they’ve made a few key additions that should propel the team into the playoffs:
1) Alex Frolov: The former Los Angeles Kings forward can be counted on to score 25-30 goals this year, which should give a boost to a Rangers team that only had one player (Marian Gaborik) score more than 20 goals last year.
2) Martin Biron: A dependable goalie who will serve as backup to Henrik Lundqvist. Biron will allow Lundqvist, who has played at least 70 games in each of the last four seasons, to play in only 60-65 games which should help the Rangers down the stretch and in the playoffs once they get there.
3) Derek Boogaard: At 6’7″ and 265 lbs., he provides some protection for Marian Gaborik, a top-scoring forward and former teammate of Boogaard’s on the Minnesota Wild. If the opposing team doesn’t play nice with Gaborik, they’ll have to face one of the best fighters in the league.
4) Derek Stepan: This American rookie was the leading scorer (4 goals, 10 assists over 7 games) for his gold-winning team in the 2010 World Junior Championships, and that level of play has continued for him as a Ranger. In their season opener in Buffalo, he became only the fourth player in history to score a hat trick (3 goals) in his NHL debut. The fact that he did it against Ryan Miller, one of the best goalies in the league, makes the feat that much more remarkable. Whether he maintains that level of play throughout the season remains to be seen, but any offensive production will be welcome on a team that finished tied for 20th in the league in scoring last year.
It should be an exciting year. I hope to see you at a game soon!
Above: Henrik Lundqvist leads his team onto the ice at last year’s home opener. (©Madison Square Garden, L.P.)