For someone who hadn’t seen the Rangers since their final loss to Buffalo, the MSG training center seemed virtually unchanged since my last trip there. Most of the players are the same, including some of the rookies who bounced up and down last season, which is pretty unique for hockey. And I think it speaks volumes that among the new faces are guys named Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, who are pretty decent hockey players. Good sign, right?
(Note: Drury, BU God, left by the time I arrived in 1998…so no, I don’t know the guy.)
Anyway, the most important thing (I think) that came out of today was Tom Renney’s answer to a question I asked about what he’d look for tonight from Nigel Dawes. It’s early, but Renney made it sound like the LW with Gomez and Jaromir Jagr may ultimately be a revolving door, depending on what he needs that particular night.
The three guys Renney mentioned (and the reason he likes them) were Dawes (goal scoring), Marcel Hossa (size and strength along the boards), and Sean Avery (good hockey I.Q., feisty).
“There’s a number of different options that we’ll continue to look at before we draw any conclusions. And I’m not sure we’ll draw any this year. We just might be able to roll a number of different people through there.”
Renney said there’s no plan tonight on who will play first line LW other than Dawes and when they will do it, but he expects to rotate other players in throughout the night:
“I’ve got some other options that I’ll roll through there. We’ll see how that looks.”
Here’s what they’re looking for from Dawes:
“Just play to his instincts. He’s a good offensive player. He’s got good quickness. He’s got a great release and can certainly get the puck to the net. I think Nigel’s just got to play good hockey. There’s no reason for him to think more than that. The last four or five years, he’s scored a ton of goals. My hope is that he’s able to add some things, create opportunities for not only himself but also his linemates and shows some awareness defensively.”
And here’s an overall thought on last night’s win over the Devils:
“We worked hard. Systematically, we did some things well enough to win, I suppose. Lots of times it’s energy and emotion kind of starts those games and it’s not necessarily how they finish. I liked the fact that we were able to settle some things down late in the game and control it, because I thought that New Jersey had a real strong third period and had an opportunity to win it.”
Couple quick notes: The lineup is mostly the same as Sam posted the other night. You can add Byers and Jessiman to the mix for tonight. … Marek Malik didn’t work today, but Renney said he’s fine.