Monday, October 3, 2011
Preseason: EVZ 8, Rangers 4
Ok, I have to take a deep breath here ...
Alright, let's get on with it.
Preseason is about getting ready for the season and learning. So, after Monday's merciless beating by the Swiss side from Zug, we have to assess how the Rangers prepared for the upcoming campaign and what they learned from getting spanked 8-4.
Well, they learned that they can't take any opponent lightly, that they get tired playing four games in five nights and that crowds can get pretty damned loud when they watch their team win big. Aside from that, it is hard to gain insight into how they will fare in the future when the game is so vastly different - virtually no physical play and a ton of extra ice to be exploited by their opponents.
Onto the Late Hits:
*Tortorella juggled the lines mercilessly looking to find chemistry and we are pretty much back to where we started - Dubi is best with Cally and Arty. He got a shot to run with Richards and Gabby and wasn't nearly the factor he is when he crashes while Cally bangs. Feds-Step-Zuke as a unit have a spark and will only get better as Step and Zuke keep maturing. Boyle-Rupp-Prust was completely ineffective as they really couldn't play their game.
*Sean Avery needs to get at least a look with Richards and Gabby. That is, if Torts keeps him around. He should.
*That being said, Christensen was one of the few Rangers who looked comfortable on the big ice. No surprise, Zuke and Bell were the others as they both recently came from Europe. But, for my money, Zuke - or Zuccarello-Aasen as he was announced in the arena - is the only one who played his way onto the team this preseason.
*An hour or so before puck drop Marty Biron was hanging out on the bench bs-ing with someone. Perhaps he should have been warming up or something. He was horrendous, a totally different goaltender than the one who won in Praha. Of course, he got even less help from his teammates on this night but still.
*As the Swiss pointed out, Brad Richards' salary is more than the entire EVZ club. He was atrocious on the power play. As was Gaborik. As was everyone.
*Josh Holden had two goals and an assist on his way to man of the match honours. He is currently suspended from league play for a bad hit and yet he got to star against us. Dammit.
*The Swiss fans were thunderous at the end of the game. The Bossard Arena isn't that big and the fans are almost on top of the ice. Having that many excited people singing for hours led to a foggy ice surface in the third (and to excitement in the air!).
*No big choreo pieces from the EVZ fan club. Disappointing. And several of their chants were exactly the same as those of other clubs, just with their own name inserted. Boring.
*As I tweeted, they clearly over-sold the standing room sections. I had a ticket in one but was talking with the wife of Zug assistant coach Waltteri Immonen and ended up hanging around her section (and getting chirped by her kids). When someone claimed the seat I had stolen, I tried to go down to the side of the Ranger end of the ice. I wanted to stand with the others at the back of the section but moments later stewards cleared everyone out. I went back around to near where I had been and slid in with the wheelchair fans. Eventually I saw the stewards let people fill in back where I was - they had too as the standing room areas were packed like sardines and plenty of paying customers couldn't see the ice.
*One puck, two tee shirts and a team flag? 130 USD. And you thought Dolan was bad. Plus the team shop did not accept credit cards - the merch stands I get, but the team store? That is insane! But apparently it wasn't a problem for the posh people of Zug as they sold out of commemorative scarves and pucks and the special orange (ewww) sweater was flying off the shelves. A replica sweater, with sublimated dye and no player name, for something like 175 USD. Ridiculous.
*There was a lot of totally random jerseys around the arena. I can understand the Habs and Islanders ones as the Swiss worship Mark Streit but some were really odd: Cam Neely throwback B's, Jonathan Toews Hawks home, Vinny Lecavalier Bolts third and a Mark Giordano Flames Winter Classic. I spoke to the Lecavalier kid and he wore it to the game because he is a big fan of John Tortorella from the coach's Tampa days.
And now the Rangers move on to Stockholm where things are gonna get real, yo. I have a few more days here in Switzerland before heading back to Sweden so I won't have anything in this space about the Blueshirts practices. Sorry.