Previewing the Rangers:
I am excited for this team. I don't know what to truly expect from them, but I'm excited for it. I don't think they'll be as bad as many have said. Now I don't think they'll be perfect. Too much room for improvement, perhaps a need for some growing pains. But, I don't see how a team that made the playoffs four years out of the lockout (one of only 2 Eastern teams to do so) suddenly will get so horrible.
Look, they lost a lot of players, and yes, some are going to be missed, certainly, but I think the trade-offs were ones worth making.
And I'm not talking about Gomez here. Although, if I was, I'd say it was the BEST gamble worth taking to unload that salary and get in return all the potential good that Gaborik can bring. Totally worth it.
But we're not just talking about him. We're talking about finally, and perhaps for the first time in my entire tenure as a fan, seeing so many young Rangers - Rangers through and through - getting a chance to play on this team.
Guys that weren't brought here at the end of careers, old and past their prime.
Guys that weren't other team's experiments that went wrong or other team's lost superstars.
Look at our team, right now.
These are, for the most part, our guys. OUR guys.
And no matter what that means for point totals, league standings or playoff berths, that feels damn good. It really does.
Newbies on defense: Del Zotto and Gilroy.
A still young Marc Staal.
For the first time in a long time, there seems to be a core. And the above players - the ones that have been there and the ones that are brand new - they seem to get it. They really seem to get it.
Add in a guy that can seemingly only play in New York - Sean Avery - and we have a team that I am certainly more proud of than those in years past.
Guys that will play for the sweater. Guys that want to be here. Want to make the plays necessary to win - for the team.
And under a Tortorella system of go-go-go and accountability and team unity - I see more to cheer about than I have in a long time.
Will there be speed bumps? Absolutely. Look, this team is not a scoring machine, although I hope they'll score more. They are young and porous on defense. They are still laden with 3 super contracts. They are banking their success primarily on two fragile players.
Oh, and they have still not scored a power play goal. Yet.
But, I will cheer. As a fan, I will cheer for them.
And for the first time in a long time, it feels really good to do so.