The New York Rangers will not count on the success of last season

The first day of New York Rangers training camp concluded and apart from a brief panic when Igor Shesterkin crashed several times during the melee, the team leaders sing the same tune.

“Last year was last year,” new captain Jacob Troupa noted. “We’ve talked about it as we move forward. It’s a new season and that’s the beauty of the league. Whether you had 110 points or 70 points last year, it’s a new year and everyone starts in the same place.”

There’s no denying that the 2021-22 campaign was a smash success for the Blueshirts, who finished the season with a record 52-24-6 to finish second in the Metropolitan division.

“I don’t know if you can call it a success,” Zibanjad said. “We did really well last year, but it makes me and the group excited to get back to work. It is not a given to reach the playoffs and that should be our number one goal.”

New York Rangers focus on the new year

March 19, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Rangers defending man Jacob Tropa (8) skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers capped a solid regular season with an unforgettable playoff run. She started back from a 3-game deficit to 1 series to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 7. They followed that up with another 7-series win over the Carolina Hurricanes for first place. Ultimately they fell at 6 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.

“I hope our players get some good experience from (last season),” said Gerard Gallant. “Every team in our division has improved so it will be a fight. Don’t worry about what happened last year. Worry about the first goal and go from there.”

New York is expected to be a contender for the Stanley Cup this season based on their recent achievements. Although the odds makers anticipate that they will once again take second place in the metro, they are aware of the task ahead.

“We come with the same goal of doing the qualifiers,” Truba said. “Once you enter that tournament anything can happen. But striving to get there is not easy and that is where everyone’s focus should be.”

One thing is for sure, the majority of players came to camp early, eager to get back into play. The disappointment of failing to beat Lightning after going up 2-0 in the series continues to nibble on them.

“When you get close to it, it leaves a starvation in your stomach, you want to go back to it right away and finish the job,” Barclay Goudreau explained. “The message is that we all started from the same point – we don’t have 110 points from last season. You have the enthusiasm to build on what we did and we are all looking forward to it.”

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Some major changes

New York Rangers
May 22, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Carolina Hurricanes Center Vincent Trochek (16) and New York Rangers Center Andrew Cobb (18) battle after a confrontation during the third period in Game Three of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, there are always some new faces on every team. Rangers are no different after watching close teammate Ryan Strom sign with the Ducks at free agency. All of the Rangers’ commercial deadline acquisitions, including Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano, have also occurred elsewhere.

“Other than Stromer, who has been here for a long time, the other guys came very late,” Zibanijad said. “We obviously have a few new players, but we still have a lot of good players here. I’m excited to see what’s coming.”

The biggest off-season pick was center Vincent Trochek, who signed for free agency from rival Carolina in July. Skate with Artemi Panarin and Vitali Kravtsov in a fight on Thursday. By all accounts, the trio seemed to have some decent chemistry out of the gate.

Of course, other veterans who have left are often replaced by youngsters like Sammy Blais, who missed all but 14 of last season’s games due to a ruptured AFC Champions League. Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko’s Kid Lane are also expected to play bigger roles after gaining valuable post-season experience.

“I underestimated that last year, but experience matters,” Gallant admitted. “In the playoffs, you don’t worry about a 20-year-old playing against a 30-year-old, you worry about playing your best hockey game. But now we have to prepare to play 82 games again and get back to that spot.”

The Rangers are still several days away from playing an exhibition game when they face the New York Islanders next Monday. However, the team is already focused on tomorrow and leaves yesterday behind.

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