Already this year, a recurrent theme around the Rangers has to do with expectations. As in, last year there were none. And now there are plenty.
It seems to apply to everyone, too: to Henrik Lundqvist, “who is expected to revert to the form he had for most of last year”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060928/SPORTS01/609280358/1046/SPORTS. To Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan, who are expected to provide most of the scoring punch this year. Even to Tom Renney, who did an admirable job getting his team to buy into a blue collar philosophy last year, and is now expected to keep them on board.
I mention this only because right now, exactly one week before the start of the season, it’s not completely absurd to expect the Rangers to be an upper-tier team in 2006-07. That to Ranger fans can be construed as good news. But it also represents a challenge the team never faced all of last year.
What do they do with that challenge? That, to paraphrase Renney, is the $60,000 question. I admittedly don’t know enough about the rest of the league to say where exactly the Rangers might fit in. But I do know after covering them thus far, in studying both its individual talent and its collective personality, that fans should at least be encouraged to start the year.
Anyway, just something to chew on on an off day.
On then, to some other observations:
—No official word on whether Jagr will play tomorrow night at the Mausoleum, but it’s looking like we’re headed in that direction. In a potential preview of what we’ll be seeing against the Islanders, the big fella skated today alongside Shanahan and Michael Nylander in some power play drills. Renney is going to hold back on a decision until tomorrow morning.
—If I had to read between the lines, my guess is that Renney might be leaning more toward keeping Nigel Dawes over Brandon Dubinsky, if in fact it is between those two. I say that because the coach seems encouraged by Ryan Hollweg’s play at center, which is important with a player like Dawes who can only play the wing (I know, it’s tough to follow). I could be completely wrong on this, and the Renney is understandably holding back on tipping his hand. But that’s my only slightly educated interpretation.
—Michal Rozsival skated again today and will likely be ready for opening night, even if he doesn’t play a preseason game beforehand.
—As I said earlier, both Greg Moore and Dan Girardi were sent to Hartford today. Again, not a huge surprise, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more cuts come in the next day or so.
—You may have noticed that MSG showed highlights of Adam Hall playing in that outdoor game for Michigan State against Michigan a few years back. What the network failed to mention was that Jed Ortmeyer played for Michigan in that game, and his line was responsible for all three Wolverine goals. “Where’s the love?” Ortmeyer said today.
OK, that’s all for now. Talk to you later….