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2016-17 Season preview: New York Rangers

2016-17 Season preview: New York Rangers

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: New York Rangers

How they did last season: 46-27-9 (101 points), 3rd in the Metropolitan, 4th in the Eastern Conference. Lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins in an incredibly one-sided affair.

Notable acquisitions: LW Nathan Gerbe; RW Michael Grabner; C Mika Zibanejad; D Nick Holden; C Brandon Pirri; LW Jimmy Vesey; RW Josh Jooris

Notable departures: C Eric Staal; LW Viktor Stalberg; D Keith Yandle; C Derick Brassard

When they will play the Caps: Oct. 22 in Washington; Feb. 19 in New York; Feb. 28 in New York; April 5 in Washington


Analysis: Several years of mortgaging the future finally seemed to catch up with the Rangers last season. It took the Pittsburgh Penguins just five games to dispatch New York in what was one of the least competitive series of the entire playoffs. A team that had begun the year with Stanley Cup aspirations was eliminated in the first round by a team that started its third-string goalie in the first two games of the series.

That series showed the Rangers were clearly no longer among the top teams in the conference. There was also no real hope of the future generation taking over in New York as the Rangers had not selected in the first round of the draft since 2012.

Think about that. Four straight years with no first-round draft picks and New York had virtually nothing to show for it.

Usually that kind of strategy leads to a long and painful rebuild, but thanks to some very shrewd moves by general manager Jeff Gorton, the future suddenly looks bright again in the Big Apple.

The Rangers’ shift in philosophy was clear when the team traded center Derick Brassard for the 23-year-old Mika Zibanejad. Brassard may arguably be the better player right now, but he is five years older and already in his prime. Zibanejad recorded 51 points last season and is only getting better.

In addition, New York also added college free agent Jimmy Vesey. While we should temper our expectations — the buzz surrounding his free agency greatly inflated what people seem to believe he can do in his rookie season — his signing adds another young weapon to a suddenly stacked offensive lineup.

In fact, with the signings of Nathan Gerbe, Michael Grabner and Brandon Pirri in addition to Zibanejad and Vesey, the Rangers may now have too many weapons on offense and may have to ship one or two players out before the season starts.

And oh yeah, they still have the king between the pipes.

At 34, age is starting to become a concern for Henrik Lundqvist. Last season was not his best as he registered his a goals against average of 2.48, the worst of his career. But that had more to do with the team as Lundqvist still managed a good save percentage of .920. The Rangers must improve improve defensively and in terms of possession in order to help their netminder this season.

Season prediction: It’s hard to tell exactly what kind of team the Rangers will be because I don’t think they’re done dealing just yet. There are too many bodies on offense and too many concerns on defense for the Rangers not to make a move.
Lundqvist is still very good, but he’s not the brick wall he used to be and Dan Girardi looks like a shell of his former self. Many did not expect Girardi to be back for this season, but as of now he’s still there.

The Rangers had a tremendous offseason, but many of the moves they made were with an eye on the future and not the present. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but this is a preview for the 2016-17 season and in that sense it doesn’t look like the moves they made will catapult them back into serious contention. New York will have to worry more about fighting off the Islanders and Hurricanes for third place in the division than they will the Caps and Penguins for first place.



Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
— Florida Panthers
— Montreal Canadiens
— Ottawa Senators
— Tampa Bay Lightning
— Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division
— Carolina Hurricanes
— Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
— Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
— Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
— Washington Capitals (coming soon)

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3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia


3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia

Playing three games in four days takes a toll on even the fittest athletes, and it was their sluggish start that doomed the Capitals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

After being noncomittal about his starting goalie all weekend, Coach Barry Trotz put Philipp Grubauer in net. Grubauer ended up making 29 saves on 34 shots. Offensively, the Caps got goals from Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, and John Carlson. Carlson's third period goal cut the Flyers' lead to two with a little over three minutes to go, but a Jakub Voracek empty-netter a few moments later was the nail in the coffin. 

Here are your three stars from the game: 

1. Travis Boyd had the play of the game for the Capitals. Boyd carried the puck into the Flyer's zone, cut through multiple defenders and fired a slick shot to a streaking Ovechkin, who burried the puck in the back of the net. Check it out: 

Not only was the play nice on its own, but it was Boyd's first NHL point. Not a bad way to get it. 

2. Shayne Gostisbehere​ got the Flyers going with his goal in the first period. The defenseman had one goal on five shots along with being an intimidating force in the defensive zone. After going six weeks without scoring, today's goal was Gostisbehere's second goal in three games. 

3. Wayne Simmonds was the best offensive player on the ice on Sunday, scoring twice - both in the final period. It was the 22nd and 23rd goals of the season for the 29-year-old winger. It was also the first multi-goal game for Simmonds since Opening Night, when he had two against San Jose. 

The Caps hit the ice next on Tuesday, when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Capital One Center. 

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.