On a day where the Rangers lighten our hearts with the wonderful news that Wade Redden was waived, it is hilariously sad that the Blueshirts blueline looked absolutely horrific in the face of the Devils. But all of that would matter if the Rangers played a NHL game tonight but the silly exhibition in Jersey was certainly not.
It was a ridiculous, disjointed, mess filled with individuals trying to make names for themselves - Rangers, Devils & referees. Apparently Paul Devorski and Chris Ciamaga were able to renew their officiating stripes by screwing over Sean Avery - like part of the hazing to get into the frat. 'Dude, I did it, the brothers did it, everyone has to do it...' Avery collected no points and 14 PIM while his potential replacement, Ruslan Fedotenko, had a goal and two assists.
The other free agents on tryouts were Alexei Semenov and Garnett Exelby. Semenov was the most sound of the defensemen but he really can't skate so it isn't like he could wander far. XLB was bad. Eminger was better but not by much - he is a borderline NHLer and he played like it. Definitely need to see more of Pavel Valentenko while Matt Gilroy was definitely impressive. Hobey certainly played with more confidence and poise than he had last season. The sixth defenseman, MDZ, well, you aren't going to like what I have to say about him.
I wanted the Rangers to draft John Carlson in '09 and I think this season Carlson will far surpass MDZ. And I think Bobby Sanguinetti, who MDZ essentially replaced, will have more points than the Ranger now that he will get NHL ice time. Outraged? Well it shouldn't be at me and instead at the youngster who did not appear to improve himself in any way in the offseason.
Del Zotto scored a gimme of a goal - Hedberg was grossly out of position (that he was missing a stick was meaningless, he got caught too high in his crease and overcommitted). But we knew he has offensive skills, what I wanted to see was an improvement in his own zone and the kid was even worse than his -20 self from last season. It was game 1 for him so maybe it was rust but he didn't show a single sign that he is ready to make that leap to reliable defenseman what I had hoped for. Check that, I had hoped for a Doughty-esque improvement but will settle for basic reliability.
Hank wasn't good but after a life of leisure all summer, it is hard to expect him to be. He will find his shape quickly once the games get real, at least that is what we need to pray for. No more hidden excuses for sub-par play - migraines, family, knee, whatever. Without Wade around to bail him out he will have to be that much better this season. Hahahahaha. Sorry, I had to.
On offense, if Callahan is the only one of the players in this 'game' to make the opening night roster I would be ok with that. Sure Avery got screwed but he also acted like a fool - dodging a real fight to get slap happy at a skill player is just pathetic, even if it is Kovy. He showed a nice willingness to go to the crease and cause havoc but it is hard to saw if Tortorella will see it that way. Torts seemed to like Kennedy's effort. I thought he skated hard but I don't see him as being a top NHL player - an AHL star for sure but NHL? He is small and his decision making doesn't seem to match his foot speed - how can he fit into the Ranger roster? His speed would be wasted with fourth-line goons, the third line is all but spoken for once Dru comes back and Kennedy doesn't have top six talent.
Speaking of... Arty scored a goal but he also scored last preseason too, the real test for him will be to see if he shows up during the regular season without a tough guy riding shotgun for him. Grachev was just as invisible as Jeremy Williams, which is pathetic. White supposedly begged the trainers to let him play but didn't play with any of the accompanying desperation. Byers fell down more than a few notches in my book by trying to catch Hepatitis before getting smacked around by Minor Leaguer Clarkson. Weise and Newbury did nothing that showed they are anything more than minor leaguers themselves. I think that just leaves Boogaard alone, which is where he will be most this season. For the second straight night he couldn't pick a fight nor do any kind of 'intimidating' that defended his teammates.
As of 1:30a the Rangers had not announced their cuts but I wouldn't be surprised to see Williams, Grachev and Byers bounced to Hartford with XLB cut outright. We shall have to see - which is the mantra for now. It's preseason and tonight was just the second exhibition of preseason at that - a start, nothing more. Lotta time to form opinions as the Blueshirt brass tries to form a team. The Blueshirts will be back in action Sunday evening at 5 in Detroit.