John Tortorella told Larry Brooks in the NY Post that while he believes the Rangers are a better team, he isn't ready to put the pressure on of calling them Stanley Cup contenders.
"I think we're where we want to be as an organization," the coach said. "But I'm not going into this putting pressure on the team by stating that we're Cup contenders.Many Rangers have been talking very highly of their chances for this season.
I am with Torts on this. There are still steps to take before the Rangers can really, in my opinion, challenge for a top spot in the East and the Stanley Cup. They are going about it the right way with their young players and adding in, hopefully, the right pieces, but you don't go from losing in five games in the first round to winning the Stanley Cup. This season, to me, is all about establishing a real presence in the Eastern Conference. It is about locking up a playoff spot before the last day of the season. It is about continued growth of players like Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer, Derek Stepan, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Callahan, among others. Maybe most importantly, this season needs to be about making Madison Square Garden a home ice advantage again and making noise in the playoffs. Steps still need to be taken, but if they can get all of that done this season, they could be on their way towards being contenders next season.