On September 15th, 2012, the NHL began their fourth lockout in 20 years. It was a battle between commissioner Gary Bettman and the Players Association. Many hockey fans were furious and were calling for Bettman to be fired, which happens a lot nowadays.
To make a long story short, the lockout lasted 119 days until a tentative deal was finally reached on January 6, 2013. Fans around the country rejoiced as we were finally going to see hockey again. As for Rangers fans, it felt like forever.
New York probably has one of the most dedicated and passionate fanbases in the league, and they show it every game. Even during a preseason game, the World’s Most Famous Arena can get quite loud at points.
Entering the 2012-2013 shortened season, the Rangers had high expectations hanging over their heads as we all know. After a playoff run to the Conference Finals last season, many experts and analysts were picking this particular team to go all the way, especially with Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes.
Lundqvist is the most competitive on this Rangers team. Even after regular season losses, he shows his disappointment and explains how he could have helped the team to victory. After a shaky three months, this team did not look playoff ready. They didn’t have any jam, and they just looked out of place. But once they hit April everything seemed to change. Hank got hot, Nash was playing well, and the Blueshirts were fresh off a trade which sent Marian Gaborik to Columbus for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, and John Moore. Glen Sather‘s move seemed to ignite the team.
The Blueshirts finished with the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference and were set to play the Washington Capitals in the first round. Again, many people were STILL picking the team to go all the way. After going down 2-0 in the series, the Rangers showed perseverance and grit, and they eventually won the series in 7 games. Now, they had to play Boston. A formidable opponent and probably the best team in the Conference in my opinion (depth wise). The Big Bad Bruins stuck to their guns, and defeated the Rangers in 5 games who were down and out once they trailed 3-0 in the series.
Sure, I was upset, especially after Chris Kreider‘s Game 4 overtime goal gave me a glimpse of hope. But, it’s only a game, life will move on. Now, Glen Sather must look ahead to the offseason, and figure out what he is going to do with potential buyouts and upcoming free agency.
As I explained in my previous article, Richards was a huge letdown this season. Especially with his playoff performance, which seemed unacceptable for a player of his caliber. Now with the Rangers eliminated, Sather must be thinking about using the amnesty buyout on Richards. Although he didn’t have a full training camp and no preseason games, these guys are pros, and they should have been working out on their own. Now, we don’t know if Brad was nursing an injury, but it didn’t look like it. He was slow, made poor decisions, and just played bad overall. If Sather chooses to buyout Richards, the Rangers can pickup a player who is more reliable and consistent.
Derek Stepan (A) Has evolved into the team’s number one center
Rick Nash (B-) Great regular season, poor playoff performance
Brad Richards (D) I think we know why he almost flunked this year
Ryan Callahan (B) Pours his heart out every game, one of the most dedicated, deserves the C on his jersey
Carl Hagelin (B) A decent season points-wise, but is by far the fastest on the team and creates plenty of offense, RFA this summer
Michael Del Zotto (D) Bad season filled with mistakes, potential trade bait?
Ryan McDonagh (A) Plays solid every game, has evolved into one of the league’s best
Dan Girardi (A) When paired with McDonagh, virtually unstoppable
Marc Staal (B+) Bad luck with injuries, but he will be back with a vengeance
Derick Brassard (A) 11 points in 13 regular season games, 9 points in 7 games against Washington, enough said
Taylor Pyatt (B) Not a true sniper, but is a good grinder and can score timely goals
Ryane Clowe (C+) Question mark heading into free agency, will he get a new deal?
Mats Zuccarello (B) Glad they resigned him, creates tons of offense for this team
Anton Stralman (B-) Played very well against Washington, great d-man overall
John Moore (B+) Great all-around d-man, why is he not on the powerplay?
Brian Boyle (D) Disappointing season, doesn’t use size to his advantage
Henrik Lundqvist (A) One of the best goaltenders in the league, gives his team a chance to win every night, is another Vezina trophy on it’s way?
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