When I think of the 2011-2012 Rangers season, I think of a mystery book I haven't read yet. The team could be destined to shock the world, or they could be destined to shock us all and struggle. I spent a while mulling the possibilities, and came up with my final ideas. I asked you for your predictions (make them!), now here are mine.
-Brad Richards will play 70+ games, have a usual Brad Richards season, yet fans will still call him a bust. It's simple, fans are looking for Richards to score much more than he will, and fans are looking for instant magic. I see Richards having to deal with the harsh reality that Rangers fans aren't the most patient bunch. Richards will finish with great stats, but fans won't care.
-Wotjek Wolski will play for all four lines at some point this season. John Tortorella will scratch the potential star, due to lack of production. Wolski will pick up his play right when the Rangers need him to, at the end of the season.
-Michael Del Zotto will not be sent down this season, but Tim Erixon will be. Del Zotto made the team outright, while Erixon needed an injury to Marc Staal to make it. Tortorella wanted Erixon to get some time in the minors, and when Bell excells, and Staal returns, Erixon will be demoted.
-Brendan Bell will play, and play well. Think this years Michael Sauer, Bell made the team after not being expected to do so, and now he has a chance to prove he belongs. Bell will seize it and force Eminger out of his spot.
-By November, the Rangers will promote Stepan to a top two line. Brandon Dubinsky will play well on the first line, though, so Stepan won't take that spot.
-Mats Zuccarello will prove he belongs in the NHL, and not be demoted all year. Eric Christensen will do the exact opposite.
-Marc Staal will play in <60 games this season, and Dan Girardi will be counted on to carry the load.
Follow me after the jump for predictions about standings and the playoffs-The Rangers will finish as the fourth seed, and finally win a first round playoff series.
-The Rangers will lose to eventual Eastern Conference Champions Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the playoffs. Matt Gilroy will laugh.
-Henrik Lundqvist will win the Vezina.
-John Tortorella will make some hilarious comment, but Joe Michiletti's stupidity will overshadow it.