Near the end of the first period Dave Maloney talked about how tough a test the big, more experienced Buffalo squad was for the lil Rangers. Well, the Baby Blueshirts were found lacking. Just as the big boys have done for so long, we were teased with some great play at the top of the tournament only to see our title hopes dashed.
Aaaaaand now I'm over it, how about you? The only title that really means something is the Stanley Cup and if tasting this defeat helps them onto the right path towards that one, then all is worth it.
That being said, just a few notes before we can move along ...
*You could tell that this wasn't going to end well right from the start: in the first two minutes the Rangers were pinned in their own zone, committed two turnovers, had a man caught looking down at the puck and went offsides on a power play.
*Carl Hagelin was the best Ranger on the ice. The Swede (by way of Michigan) drew a pair of penalties - the first came on a burst of speed to the outside, the other was from grinding on the endboards. Good, hard work both times. He also recovered a loose puck off of a offensive zone faceoff loss and found J.T. Miller open for a gimme goal.
*Miller, for his part, showed a great release on his goal. He was left utterly alone in the slot by Buffalo but he didn't hesitate in the least and put the Rangers on the scoreboard. I was very, very down on his drafting and am still not convinced he can be a NHL player but after this tourney I understand what the Ranger scouts saw in him. He does not give up.
*Nice touch by the Traverse CIty folks to play Men At Work's "It's a Mistake" when Jyri Niemi took a penalty midway through the first period. Sadly, it was not a mistake - it was a penalty and an awful one for him to take after choking up the puck. And the Sabres then scored on the ensuing power play, a puck on edge over Stajcer's shoulder short side. Niemi was the worst Ranger in this one, which is surprising considering his year of AHL experience.
*Nice of Jason Wilson to show up in this tournament and lose a fight.
*Did I see a Ranger try a wrap=around in the third period? Frolov return to the team?
*Samuel Noreau was bad in the first game, he was bad in the last one. He clearly still has a ways to go before becoming a NHLer but the progress was very reassuring.
*Perhaps it was the pressure of the captaincy or something but McIlrath had his second poor game in a row. We already knew he will spend the season in Moose Jaw but now we don't have to be disappointed by it - the building blocks of a stalwart blueliner are there but there is still a significant amount of work left to go.
*Joe Micheletti is just atrocious. He stutters, he sputters, he has no idea what is going on and has no chemistry with his broadcasting partners. It is going to be a looooooooooooong season.
*The MSG guys struggled to find someone to compare Tim Erixon to - first saying McDonagh, then Marc Staal. Here is my opinion - Teppo Numminen. Good positionally, great with the puck, not particularly physical but more than capable and someone who can have a really solid NHL career.
*Ken Holland was interviewed and the Wings GM didn't sound nearly as smart as he is. I think the 'OMG this is on TV' factor played a part, as did the fact that his attention was split between the interview and the game. I've spoken to Holland before and found him thoughtful, well spoken and incredibly, incredibly hockey intelligent.
For all of the ripping on the Rangers and on MSG, it was simply awesome to be able to watch this tournament. The Rangers intentionally keep the fans away from their training camp so this was the best chance to see Future Blue for those of us far away from major junior.