Saturday, September 22, 2007
What A Difference A Day Makes
After playing essentially the Devils 2007-08 team (minus Marty Brodeur), the Rangers took on, and were embarassed by, the Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers, who basically played with split squads each night (only five Rangers played both games), looked abominible. So without further ado, my observations and comments ... :
Rangers vs. Flyers Preseason Game 2
*First off, of the guys who played both nights, none played especially well. Mark Smith was almost nonexistent again. Baby Huey Jessiman was horrible and got hammered by Steve Downie in a fight. Downie looked like a prototypical Broad Street Bully, I think this will be far from the last time he beats on the Rangers. Betts wasn't as good as he was last night, but he didn't have as much responsibility as both Gomez and Drury were in the lineup. I thought Dane Byers played a solid but unspectacular game and will eventually be a NHL foot soldier.
*Speaking of Gomez, he played pretty well but the first line of him, Jagr and Nigel Dawes was heavily checked all night and could get absolutely nothing doing on the power play. Dawes needs more work if he is going to play with them regularly, still playing a north-south game with two east-west kind of guys.
*Drury looked great, doing exactly what the Rangers expected - a little of everything. Of course his two expected linemates played last night (Avery and Shanny) and they looked great skating with Brandon Dubinsky.
*Henrik didn't play as badly as 5-0 looks but his head was still on the beach with megamodels -- at least two of the five should have easily been stopped.
*Petr Prucha, who everyone raved about at the Training Center, was pushed around and didn't have that great of a game.
*Now the Rangers defense had a atrocious game. Rozy was the best of the bunch (not saying much) but had no help. Mara had more responsibility than he did last season and looked weak in the Rangers zone and missed several shots on offense. Toots was scrambling all night without his anchor next to him (Dan Girardi). Ivan Baranka was disgustingly bad - like Malik on his worse night bad. David Liffiton was barely there as was Tom Pock. This group of guys were so much worse compared to the unit last night - they weren't as smooth with the puck, they scrambled around their own zone and had zero chemistry.
MIDNIGHT EDIT: According to Blueshirt Bulletin immediately after the game the Rangers demoted Liffiton, Baranka and Baby Huey to Hartford. No surprise there aat all after this performance ...
*Marcel Hossa looked lost out there and hopefully will end up in the same position as Brad Isbister last season - either skating on the first line or out of the lineup entirely.
*Even though Colton Orr decked Jesse Boulerice, he did little to intimidate the Flyers throughout the game. I shudder to think of what it would have been like if they had Ben Eager in the lineup.
*Lauri Korpikoski was the only youngster I was impressed with. I think that in the customizable modular lineup that Tom Renney is likely going to use this year, Korpikoski will be great playing fourth line checking minutes alongside Bettsy on nights that the team doesn't need a banger like Hollweg.
*As for the Flyers, I think Sami Kapanen will end up a Selke candidate as best defensive forward. Mike Knuble will prove to be a great late round fantasy draft pick, he will embrace a full season alongside that sissy Briere. As I said eariler, Downie will be a Flyer for a longtime and will be beloved by their fans. Same with Braydon Coburn, who is a more-mobile version of Derian Hatcher. Both Biron and Niity-however-you-spell-it were very steady and will backbone this team back to respectability and probably the playoffs - this year.
*END OF THE GAME NOTES: Something tells me that the puck-possession stylings of our top line will yet again get on my nerves as teams that primarily use high-speed, north-south hockey have won Cups in recent years. I hope not, but am quite ready to break out the SHOOT THE PUCK, SHOOT THE PUCK chant ...
SCOTTY HOCKEY 3 Stars:
3. Steve Downie
2. Marty Biron
1. Mike Knuble
I wouldn't be surprised to see a few more cuts before Monday's game against the Islanders. Hopefully none of the guys will catch any STDs from the ice girls in the Mausoleum and they put up more of a fight than they did tonight because at the end of the day (preseason or not), its a game against our biggest rivals so we had better win. Let's Go Rangers!