Ageless Lundqvist could be key to Rangers’ Stanley Cup hopes
NEW YORK RANGERS
LAST SEASON: 48-28-6, 102 points. Fourth in Metropolitan Division. Lost to Ottawa Senators in Eastern Conference semifinals.
COACH: Alain Vigneault (fifth season, 16th NHL season).
ADDED: D Kevin Shattenkirk, D Tony DeAngelo, C David Desharnais, G Ondrej Pavelec, C Lias Andersson, C Filip Chytil.
LOST: C Derek Stepan, C Oscar Lindberg, G Antti Raanta, D Dan Girardi, D Kevin Klein, RW Brandon Pirri, D Adam Clendening.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Henrik Lundqvist. The veteran goalie, who turns 36 in March, is coming off a 31-20-4 season in which he had career worsts with a 2.74 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. Pavelec, who replaces Raanta as the backup, struggled the last few seasons and had a 3.55 GAA last season with a .888 save-percentage in eight NHL games. Vigneault said he doesn’t have a specific number of games in mind for Lundqvist.
OUTLOOK: A team perennially expected to compete for the Stanley Cup, the Rangers failed to advance beyond two rounds of the postseason for the second straight year. Some veterans were jettisoned and the defense was shored up with the signing of top free agent Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk should also help a power play that was 10th in the league and struggled with inconsistency. Andersson and Chytil could make the roster months after the teenagers were selected in the first round of the NHL draft, and could be key to the Rangers’ success.