When: Friday, October 7, 1:00 p.m.
Opponent: Los Angeles Kings (in Stockholm, Sweden)
UPDATE: Here's today's lineup:
Brandon Dubinsky/Brad Richards/Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko/Artem Anisimov/Ryan Callahan
Wojtek Wolski/Derek Stepan/Mats Zuccarello
Mike Rupp/Brian Boyle/Brandon Prust
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Mike Sauer
Steve Eminger-Tim Erixon
EARLIER: Today the New York Rangers will open their season
against the Los Angeles Kings, a team that shares many similarities with them.
Both teams have teetered on the edge of the playoff picture in
recent years, both teams made a huge acquisition that is expected to change
their fortunes this season and both teams were without their star defenseman
for most of training camp.
The Los Angeles Kings finished seventh in the Western
Conference in 2010-2011 and while the Rangers were ousted by the Washington
Capitals in the first round of the playoffs, the Kings were eliminated by another
powerhouse, the San Jose Sharks.
The Rangers had just returned to the playoffs after barely
missing out on the postseason in 2009-2010 while Los Angeles, another young
team, barely made the playoffs each of the last two seasons.
Each team entered the summer seeking to upgrade its talent in
order take the next step. Kings GM Dean
Lombardi attempted to snag both Brad and Mike Richards, but in the end he
settled for the ex-Flyer captain that is expected to act as a co-pilot for Anze
Kopitar to propel the Kings to the next level. Brad ended up with the Rangers and is expected to revitalize the career
of Slovakian sniper Marian Gaborik.
For each team, expectations entering training camp were sky
The Kings’ only problem was a familiar one to New York –
their No. 1 defenseman wasn’t a participant in training camp.
The Kings finally brought 21-year-old defenseman Drew
Doughty back into the fold when they signed him on September 29th to an
eight-year, $56 million deal, a number surpassed this summer only by Brad Richards’
deal with the Blueshirts. New York is
still sorely missing Marc Staal, out with post-concussion symptoms and will be
forced to open the season with a patchwork blueline.
Without Staal, enthusiasm for the Rangers’ potential has been
But the Blueshirts are still a solid team and today's tilt with the Kings should be a good measuring stick of just where this team
stands without its best defensive player.
The pressure will be on rookie defenseman Tim Erixon to
handle the likes of Kopitar, Richards, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, but as
usual New York will also rely on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to keep the Kings
off the scoreboard.
The hope is that with the addition of Richards, the Rangers
may have the firepower to match Los Angeles, even with Staal out of the lineup.
The much anticipated debut of the Richards-Gaborik tandem could
be the big story of the first game and Brandon Dubinsky will get first crack on
their left side. How that trio performs
could dictate how line combinations are constructed from here on out.
Both teams are widely expected to make the playoffs and some
even believe that each is ready to compete for the division crown. Like the Rangers, Los Angeles has some mighty
foes to overcome to rise in the Western Conference. Perennial juggernauts Detroit, Vancouver,
Chicago and San Jose still have to be considered the favorites, but the Kings
may be next in line.
If New York is still hoping to follow a similar arc, the
team will need to show that it can survive temporarily without its star
The Kings will provide a major test, but it’s one that a supposedly
improved Rangers’ squad should be up for.
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2011-2012 season preview:
Conference Preview > (10/3/11)
Conference Preview > (10/4/11)
Predict Where The Rangers Will Finish > (10/5/11)
Rangers Season Preview > (10/5/11)
Claim Jeff Woywitka Off Waivers > (10/6/11)
“The King” Vs. The Kings In Season-Opener > (10/7/11)
here for our full 2011-2012 Season Archive >
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