This past Wednesday night, the New York Rangers opened up with a gutty 3-2 victory over the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks at the madhouse on madison in the windy city. Prospect centerman Oscar Lindberg netted the first goal of the 2015-16 campaign with a nice finish on a one-timer. After that, the Blackhawks evened the score up on a goal by Artmei Panarin, assisted by an outstanding pass from winger Patrick Kane. The Rangers would then go up 3-1 and stave off a late rally by the feisty Blackhawks. With around a minute to go, Patrick Kane poked in a puck past Lundqvist, but the goal was disallowed because the referee lost sight of the puck. This gave Ranger fans a scare, but it ended up being a moot point. The Rangers showed fight and poise, something that they have shown often in recent years.
This performance is nothing surprising, the Rangers are a very good team. The question every year now is whether they can get over the hump. It is impossible to answer that right now, but a win on the road opening night against the defending champs is definitely nothing to sneeze at. New addition centerman Jarret Stoll, although a question mark off the ice, will hopefully add some toughness and physicality to the team, something they lacked last year against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals. Stoll can win face-offs, and is the gritty guy that they need.
It is only one game, so we shouldn't get too crazy, but it is apparent that the Rangers again will at least be a solid team that should be right back in the thick of the playoff conversation. Whether they make a deep run or not is yet to be seen, but we should be in store for another eventful season. The young core of players including Kreider, McDonagh, Fast, Miller, Stepan, and others allows for this team to be a force year in and year out. Not to mention, the King in net is still at the top of his game. With the calming force of Alain Vigneault behind the bench, look for the Rangers to pick up right where they left off last season.