Sunday, September 26, 2010
Preseason: Red Wings 5, Rangers 3
Another day, another preseason game. And sadly, a loss.
But seeing as the 5-3 defeat at the hands of Detroit was just another exhibition, the final result is of little consequence. What happened and how the individual Rangers played was what was important - and it was clearly a game of individuals for the Blueshirts. With a few exceptions, there was little line chemistry up front and there was absolutely none on the blueline. So just how did those individuals do?
*Sean Avery: A night after his antics went a bit over the top, Avery reined in his emotions and played a smart game. He still harassed the Wings, but he managed to go penalty-free while remaining involved in the flow of the game. And he got a goal for his efforts and his willingness to work the front of the crease. I've repeated it again and again and again and again and again and again, if you pay the price, good things happen.
*Pavel Valentenko: Yes he was a step too slow. Yes he made mistakes. But when he saw Tomas Holmstrom camping out in front of the Ranger net he went after him. I will gladly take the two minutes shorthanded in return for the message being sent - get the hell away from our goaltender.
*Alex Frolov: During a pre-recorded interview, Avery said that Frolov was underrated defensively and I can see why. The Russian is responsibly in his own end and good positionally. In this game it resulted in the shorthanded two-on-one that got Arty a goal.
*Ryan McDonagh: Wade who? McD played nearly 25 minutes and certainly showed NHL ability. He suffered a bit from the rotating partners but once he settles in, he will be a capably and reliable part of the Blueshirt blueline.
*Both goaltenders: Martin Biron and Chad Johnson both allowed bad goals, with Johnson's horrible showing on the Holmstrom shot being the worst of the worst. That is two terrible goals in two periods of work by DosNueve so he has bought his ticket to Hartford. And, if reports are to be believed, he will even be pushed for his starting job there by Cam Talbot. Biron was still rusty but let's face it, it will take him time to get the stink of the Islanders off.
*Evgeni Grachev: Perhaps I have been a bit hasty labeling him Pavel Brendl II, I am willing to admit that. Grachev is still a kid so he still has time to avoid the bust label, but he isn't doing himself any favours. You can teach a lot of things in hockey, but you can't teach desire. A player has to have the drive to succeed and the confidence that comes with it if he is going to make the show. By all on-ice indications to date, Grachev doesn't have either.
*Alexei Semenov: Semenov is big. Semenov is slow. Semenov is going to develop a hump the way he skates. He lumbers around hunched over, making himself seem smaller than he really is - exactly the opposite of what he should be doing. Management is enamoured with his size but if Frankenstein can't play big, he shouldn't play at all.
As for some of the other guys, Mats Zuccarello is making strides towards adjusting to NHL play but he clearly isn't there yet. Erik Christensen had a back-and-forth game and his top-line position is certainly being threatened by Derek Stepan. As dynamic as Brian Boyle was against the Devils, he looked one-dimensional and outright incompetent at times against Detroit. Mike Sauer wasn't able to keep up with the Wings' pace but I really don't want to write him off just yet.
Torts said that a wave of cuts are likely for Monday and we will see who is standing after that. The building blocks are here for a respectable team this season but, as we just saw, the Rangers are still not even close to the elite talents in the NHL.