Friday, September 25, 2009
Preseason: New York 3, Washington 2
The Rangers put together a fun, fast 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night. I don't know about with you guys, but I found it flew by and was vastly more entertaining than anything last season. Granted, the Rangers iced essentially their opening night roster (minus Marc Staal) while the Caps had plenty of Hershey Bears in the lineup but it was still a good time at the Garden.
I have to keep it short so let's just take a look:
*Brandon Dubinsky made his return to the Garden ice and he played quite well - especially considering how much of camp he missed. Dubi skated hard, went to the net and he got knocked down by Jurcina and still got the puck to Chris Higgins for the game-winning goal. It will be interesting to see how he fits into the lineup.
*Marian Gaborik ... wow. The shortie he scored to open the night's scoring was a work of art. Gabby picked up a loose puck at the Ranger blueline and took off to score on a breakaway. It was very Pavel Bure-esque. His second came in traffic, which was great to see but certainly nerve-racking. As I said when we got him, "We will enter every game with baited breath - what will Gaborik do tonight? What kind of goal will he score? Will his groin go again or will it be something else?"
*His old buddy Aaron Voros continued to prove all of us wrong. We have written him off time and time again (and will likely again soon) but he was one of the strongest Rangers on the ice. He hit, he forced the action, got scoring chances and managed to avoid getting his face punched in. Great work by the big guy.
*Now, I will continue to grind the ax against Donald Brashear. Brash took two bad penalties and had two fights against minor league thug (and underground hero) Brandon Sugden. There was no real reason to fight - he wasn't protecting teammates - maybe he felt he owed it to Sugden to give the guy an opportunity to make an impression with the Caps. Brash took a few punches and fell in the first tilt, then got hammered in the second before his fight strap (mysteriously) snapped and allowed him to punch freely and win the back half of the battle. The Garden, with few exceptions (me being one) cheered him heartily. Sheep.
*And at the same time, these folks booed Wade Redden every time he touched the puck. As is well chronicled here, I dislike Redden. He hits like a girl, he loses his coverage, he can't shoot and can hardly pass. But honestly, in this game, Redden didn't deserve to be booed mercilessly.
*The Scotty Hockey Three Stars will return with the regular season but I have to question Redden as tonight's choice for third star. I can admit that Redden had a perfectly adequate game, but he wasn't the third best player. He wasn't even the best Ranger defender; that was Matt Gilroy. Gilroy continued to jump into the rush and made a fantastic play standing up Alexander Ovechkin (which ended up in the Ranger net thanks to his oafish partner Semenov). Even Dan Girardi was stronger and steadier than Redden.
*Bobby Sanguinetti was sent down to Hartford before the game on Thursday. It was probably the right move, but certainly a sad statement about his development. Geno Grachev may follow him to the farm. He was largely invisible in this one, as was Arty Anisimov. Anisimov didn't score another highlight reel goal - or any goal for that matter - but he drew a penalty, so that's a plus. Grachev ... I didn't notice he played until I saw the box score.
*Ales Kotalik was a waste of a jersey on this night, but that is to be expected. He is an enigmatic player with zero defense but every game or two his slap shot will hopefully be felt. Hopefully. At least enough to justify part of his insane contract.
*Alex Semenov will certainly get the seventh defenseman slot on his size alone. As you saw, I was impressed in his work to earn that position the previous games but in this one he was horrid. Semenov was culpable in both Washington goals and took a dumb penalty to boot. No wonder the folks in San Jose were so frustrated.
*Hank was a wall. The stellar Swede showed he is in regular season form with several big saves and he could hardly be faulted for the goals against. Just like last season, and the season before, and the season before.
*Just a quick note on the Caps - their penalty kill was really good. They kept the Rangers on the outskirts of the zone, when they were even able to get into the zone. It was quite impressive.
We'll see how they do on Sunday, when the teams meet again in the preseason finale.