It was absolutely wonderful to be back at a hockey game on Friday night. And a good friend set me up with a seat in a suite which was absolutely delicious ... get it? Suite/sweet = delicious? Cut me some slack, I'm giddy hockey is back. The fare turned out to be a sloppy, wild, wildly entertaining and utterly ridiculous Ranger win in MSG West. Preseason doesn't mean much but if this game is any indicator of the action that we are in for this season, someone get me the Maalox. Not a lot of time to expound upon this so just some notes:
*Ryan Callahan looked good with that C on his sweater.
*Gaborik should have easily had a hat trick. Easily.
*Not sure if Wolski is the answer on the wing with Gabby and Richards but he has definitely raised his game from where it was at the end of last season. He was involved offensively and, more importantly, he was good away from the puck. Richards wasn't 100% and it showed, and yet he was still dangerous every time he was o the ice. It could be a delight to watch him once the games get real and he gets fully fit. If Wolski can start clicking with him and the Slovak we could have some serious success.
*The other Gary Roberts guy on the ice was Michael Del Zotto, or as he will be known here henceforth, Del-Zaster. MDZ was simply not good for the second straight game. His positioning was dubious, he was outmuscled to the puck, he choked it up and he definitely dragged Tim Erixon down with him. Schoney had to have seen that, as he juggled the defenders in the third to get the new kid away from him.
*I just finished typing that and turned on the television to catch Micheletti raving about MDZ's performance on the replay. Need I say more?
*Pavel Valentenko was almost as poor and it hurts to write that. Valentenko didn't use his shot, didn't get off any big hits, was beaten in his own zone and took a penalty because of it. Had high hopes for him.
*How hilarious was it to see Mmmaaaarrrttttyyy take a dive and get no call? Man did I miss hockey.
*I must say, the goaltending was sad on both sides.
*Brendan Bell was the first star because the writers get a form mid-third period as to who they want and they get lazy and put 'GWG scorer.' Bell was exactly who he was when he left Ottawa for Switzerland - a defensively deficient mediocre puck handler. But thank goodness his shot slipped through Mmmaaarrtttyy's rolls, because I think seeing a two-goal lead get blown would have made me snap. Even in preseason.
*Dancing Larry showed up. Hooray for that. He brought his tired, pathetic act to the Rock and was the same as always: a mush. He danced his uncoordinated lame dance and the Devils rallied. Please, someone make him stop - it was quaint years ago, now it is just sad.
*Mike Sauer was the best Ranger on the ice. And he has a bum knee. Love watching him work.
*The arena folks played a nice pre-recorded package from the NHL before the game to honour those hockey players lost in the offseason. It was nice but fans were wary to clap or not, which made it awkward. Still nice to see everyone remembered.
*In person you can see that Carl Hagelin is really fast. I mean, like, fast. Like, would give reigning speed champ Michael Grabner competition fast. Let's hope he is more like 30 Goal Grabner and not No Hands Rico Fata.
*Five forwards on the power play? No thank you. Never again please. When Wolski is the lone man back you know you are in trouble - no matter how far he improved from last year.
*Mike Rupp started great in his utterly meaningless, pre-planned circus fight against Eric Boulton before getting ultimately taken down by a guy a foot shorter than him. Disappointing.
*Beginning to think that Brian Boyle's 21 goals last season were a fluke. But the big man is still a heck of a penalty killer so he gets a pass.
*Adam Larsson is no fluke. That kid is going to be good. Why does he have to be a Devil?
*Petr Sykora's performance made me sad that the Rangers let him go way back when.
*There are few things more enjoyable than seeing disappointed Devils fans. I mean, to see an actual Devil fan is rare enough, but to see them disappointed is just delightful. Yeah, no goal pal - stay out of our crease.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars will return with the regular season. I will be mid-air on my way to Prague on Monday when the puck drops in Philly so I will just leave an open post here. Please fill me in on what happens!