Wolf Pack 4, Portland 3
If nothing else, the Rangers organization will get one win tonight, and given the dismal state of the team’s AHL affiliate these days, that’s saying something.
Meanwhile, there’s a report out of New York that says the Rangers are looking to pack out of Hartford and move their farm team to Brooklyn. I’m sure the dozens of fans here will be disappointed.
Actually, that’s a cheap shot, especially to the kind Wolf Pack people who escorted me around the Civic Center like a lost puppy. You know the guy who pulls over for directions and is so far off course you don’t even know where to start? That was me in Hartford today. If I don’t have a follow-up blog tomorrow, it’s because I could never find my way home…
Anyway, some quick impressions:
I spent the game sitting next to Rangers pro scout Frank Effinger and assistant GM Don Maloney, so it was enlightening to hear some of their thoughts. That said, if there was something really enlightening either wanted to discuss, they purposely leaned into one another so I couldn’t hear them. Man, the media gets a bad rap. It’s not like I have a forum to pass along any gossip…
Before the game I spent some time talking to Brandon Dubinsky and asked him whether he thinks some of the Wolf Pack deserve a better look from the Rangers. Dubinksy, with his team 1-6 at the time, provided a logical response. “It’s not like any of us are lighting it up here,” he said. True enough, it would be one thing if there were players at the AHL level nipping at veterans’ heels. But with the Wolf Pack struggling even more than the Rangers — and no one filling the net with any consistency — there isn’t anyone making too strong a case. Yet.
That said, a couple of impressive individual performances. I’ve always liked Dubinsky even if he was sluggish at times tonight, perhaps because of a lingering wrist injury; and Lauri Korpikoski looks like he may be a year away from being an effective checking forward at the NHL level. But believe it or not, the best player on the ice was Ryan Callahan, a rookie from Rochester who had a miserable training camp with the Rangers, but who had 52 goals last year in juniors. Callahan had two goals tonight, but me being the sharp-eyed scout that I am, I noticed him well before that. Both Maloney and Effinger were impressed as well.
Then there was Darius Kasparaitis. Despite his disappointment at being here, the defenseman had a spirited game, with a number of crunching hits, and even a breakaway. That’s right, the Rangers sent Kasparaitis down to Hartford so he could reinvent himself into a puck-moving point man in the Brian Leetch mold. I’m kidding, of course. And yes, Kasparaitis missed the breakaway. Seriously, it still looks like Kasparaitis needs to pick up a step, but at least here you got a sense of what his worth to the Rangers could be once he’s healthy.
Maloney lended little credence to the idea that the Rangers are shopping around Petr Prucha, and said his conversation with anyone from Chicago last night consisted of little more than hello.
OK, the puck’s about to drop on the West Coast. More tomorrow…