Sunday, October 3, 2010
Preseason: Senators 8, Rangers 5
A final score of 8-5 hearkens back to the halcyon days of the all-offense '80s but let's face it, it was more a result of terrible play than some outrageous display of skill. That being said, it was wild game that was quite entertaining once you accepted the fact that it was meaningless in the standings ... the same with the rest of the Ranger preseason. When you take away the dread of inevitable disappointment and you add in youthful exuberance, you have some fun hockey. These Rangers have been fun to watch, win, lose or shootout. Now the $25,000 question: will it carry over into the regular season?
I certainly hope/pray/dream so.
The Rangers iced a team of players desperate to make their marks against Ottawa's NHL team and they hung with them until late in the third period. Not bad. Two empty net goals make it appear like a worse loss than it was but the scoreline isn't the all-important result, what was seen during the loss is what was important as it will help determine the Rangers opening night roster. So here is what I saw:
*We may have another Brashear on our hands with Boogaard. His cup check on Chris Neil was not some kind of revenge for Neil's hit on Staal, it was clearly a misguided attempt to start a fight. Lurch had nothing better to do on the ice so he did something dumb. It was a classic cheap shot, and Neil acted it right, doubling over to get Boogey tossed and the Sens a five minute major. Now I have no problem with provoking a guy - Sean Avery is my favourite Ranger after all - but you just don't hit a guy in the nuts. It was senseless, it was classless and there is no room in the NHL for that anymore. If Boogey wants to play like that, he can go join Brash in the Quebec senior goon league.
*Fellow fourth liner Brian Boyle was the exact opposite. As all of the usual leaders were scratched for the game, Boyle was given a letter and he honoured it with a fantastic performance. The Rangers scored five goals, Boyle didn't get a single point and yet he was the best Blueshirt on the ice. He has been astounding this preseason, blowing away the old perception of him as fat, soft and ugly (playing) Susan Boyle.
*Speaking of ugly, Marty Biron was horrible. The team in front of him didn't do him any favours to be sure, but he couldn't stop a beach ball. Six goals allowed on 26 shots is ridiculous. I said it would be hard for him to shake the stink of the Islanders from his pads and it certainly hasn't happened yet. If he doesn't get his game together in the next week, we will be doomed to another season of running Hank into the ground.
*As for the defensemen in front of him, they were a mess. None of these guys have been on a stable pairing and they clearly have no chemistry or familiarity with each other. Everyone had Mike Sauer and Pavel Valentenko as the two bubble guys but I thought they were the best of the blueliners. Hobey looked lost, MDZ was a trainwreck defensively (as per usual), Eminger was awful and McDonagh showed his youth. Send McD down and keep Eminger only until Rozy returns.
*It is amazing how Tortorella wore out his welcome in Tampa and yet the players who have been reunited with him step up their games immediately. Last season Vinny Prospal instantly turned his game around and now it is Ruslan Fedotenko's turn. I didn't like the guy on Pittsburgh, I was worried he would take Avery's job and yet now I can't imagine the Rangers starting this season without him. Hopefully, unlike Prospal, Fedotenko can carry the momentum throughout the entire season. Prospal disappeared when the Rangers needed him most last year ...
*Derek Stepan was -4, Erik Christensen was -3 and Arty Anisimov was -2 while Todd White was +2. Arty is not going anywhere (for better or worst) so at least one of the remaining three will be bounced. White played like his career was on the line and came up with two goals, but is it enough to save him a spot on Broadway? Unless Sather can translate those two goals into a decent draft pick, I would say yes. Christy is the one that I think finds himself in Hartford, at least until Stepan shows his stuff in the regular season. This -4 was offset by a nice goal and the fact that he was playing with different wingers yet again.
*The two Wolf Pack callups, Weise and MZA, were both involved. Weise assisted on Arty's goal and got his ass handed to him in an awkward fight against Nick Foligno. MZA scored a great goal on a give-and-go with Tim Kennedy but still showed the deficiencies that got him banished to Hartford in the first place. He should be sent back down but it was good to get another look at him in a higher level. As for Weise, well he is willing to give his all for the team so that has to mean something. We'll see exactly what in the next few days.