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After a late-season push and a win in the opener of a home-and-home series with Philadelphia, New York needed only to beat the Flyers again in the final game to sneak in as the No. 8 seed. The Rangers got the game into a shootout, but were eliminated there when former forward Olli Jokinen failed to score on the team’s last attempt.

New York finished with 87 points, one fewer than Philadelphia and Montreal, who claimed the seventh and eighth playoff spots and then both made runs to the conference finals.

“I am confident we’re coming back and everybody will want to work extremely hard to bounce back from last year. But you can never promise anything because the league is so tight,” Lundqvist said.

The Rangers are already starting at a disadvantage because captain Chris Drury and fellow forward Vinny Prospal are beginning the season on the injured list. Drury should be back from his broken finger within the first few weeks. Prospal will likely be out longer because of a knee injury.

“I don’t expect him for a little bit here,” Tortorella said. “He’s an important guy for us, but that is such an iffy situation right we can’t depend on that. We need to move on. Not to disrespect Vinny but we need to understand that we need to be playing without him right now.”

Adding free-agent forward Alexander Frolov to the top line alongside leading scorer Marian Gaborik will surely be a boost to the offense, but the Rangers still haven’t found a solid center to make a perfect trio. Lack of depth at center has hurt the Rangers since the days of Jaromir Jagr.

Veteran forward Ruslan Fedotenko made the team during a training camp tryout and will provide depth. The Rangers are also excited to see the debut of top prospect Derek Stepan.

“I’m not going to make predictions, I’m not in that part of the business,” Tortorella said. “The group is together, I think we’re familiar. I think the additions of an experienced backup goalie, Frolov we hope is going to score some goals and help Gabby, Stepan has stepped up.

“The bottom line is the kids are intact, our core is still here and they’re going to improve as we go along.”