These guys are good

9

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….

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9 Comments

  1. Sam…

    Today I have e-mailed my question concerning the internet live streaming to the Commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy commissioner Billy Daly ! There was someone who gave me their e-mail addresses on the comments section….

    I am eagerly awaiting a kind of response as I don´t exspect one…
    ï?Šï?Šï?Š

    Meanwhile I have realized that Marcel Hossa is obviously the player on the Rangers roster, which caused the most mixed feelings on the fans and beat writers. There is lot of speculation going on right now, if he should picked before guys like Dubinsky or Dawes.

    “One day after being handed a roster spot, Marcel Hossa did his famous disappearing act. He was very active in the first period, playing on a line with two dynamos in Prucha and Dubinsky, but he was nowhere to be seen over the last forty minutes, even as everyone else picked up their play.

    He is well criticized for being very inconsistent, having a good first period and then it is seems to him disappearing all the time. Renney is stated very often giving more experienced players more ice time (like Hossa!!!) as to youngsters like Dubinsky or Dawes !!!

    I would really like your opinion about Hossa as much as you haven´t mentioned his name in your observations …

  2. Sam: I haven’t seen the MSG clip, but I suppose one would also find playing at that outdoor game at MSU: al montoya, dwight helminen, and lee falardeau–though no recollection if and how any of those figured in the scoring.

  3. montoya was not in school yet when that game was played…it was played in 2001. ortmeyer is 7 years older than montoya

  4. “—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).”

    —————–

    SO does that mean Dubinsky (1 goal) and Immonen (1 goal, 2 assists) are BOTH going back to Hartford?? That would leave Nylander, Cullen, Betts and Hollweg as the 4 centers to begin the season — not that encouraging to me seeing how the Rangers wanted to spread their offense around this season. Immonen and Dubinsky are clearly better offensive players than Betts/Hollweg. I don’t get this reasoning..

  5. Valid question, Tom. I’m still unclear about Immonen. He’s definitely been solid the last few days, and since he’s a little older, my guess is the Rangers might be willing to keep him up, even if he at times is a healthy scratch.
    You’re right about those players being better offensive options than Hollweg and Betts, but Hollweg and Betts are right now more refined NHL players. For one, Betts was their best face-off guy last year, and Hollweg has been extremely impressive as a forechecker and overall sparkplug. Also, I think Hollweg, paired with the right players, could emerge into a better offensive player than he was last season.

  6. I can understand Hollweg being around as the sparkplug etc. But as far as Betts being their best face-off guy goes…well, Immonen is an extremely good face-off guy himself too (led the Finnish Elite League in faceoff% the last 3 years before going over to NA). Plus Immonen also has better hockey sense (hands, vision etc.) than Betts, who you can’t really can an NHL veteran or anything yet (110 games).

    I know that at least 2 teams from the Finnish Elite League have approached the Rangers about Immonen’s availability to maybe return to Finland if he can’t get a spot in the NHL. So far the Rangers have apparently said no to those inquiries, but I hear the door has been left open. The Finnish season is 6 games young/old and some teams are already looking for reinforcements.

    And yeah, I’m biased towards Immonen since I’ve followed him for many years ;)

  7. I have to admit that I’m not all that surprised that MSG “forgot” about Ortmeyer’s involvement in the outdoor game. After his pulmonary embolism was found, they were all over it. But after training camp started, and it became clear that there may not be a spot waiting for him when he gets back, there has been no mention of him at all. Probably not much to report, I know, like with other LTIs such as Ozolinsh. But since Ortmeyer is such a fan favorite (exactly the opposite of Ozolinsh, whom most would like to forget), you’d think MSG would try to get him in their programming somehow.

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