Update, postgame: Petr Nedved was eventually credited for the Rangers’ final goal, now giving him a goal and two assists in two games. On a related note, Nedved is scheduled to play tomorrow night. I’d like to take credit for the idea, but Tom Renney said, “We had him penciled in already.”
Fine. The point is on a team that appears to lack some offensive punch so far, how do you justify cutting a guy that has been one of the lone bright spots in that department?
I’d still put Nedved as a longshot, but with each passing game, he’s making a stronger case for himself.
“I don’t have a deadline,” Nedved said about making the team. “Maybe they have a deadline.”
Meanwhile, that’s eight goals in four games for the Rangers. Tom Renney’s explanation? “Strange as it may seem, we haven’t really placed a premium on our offense yet,” he said.
Oh, OK. Let us know when you get around to that.
Seriously, the coach’s point was that the team was focused on getting its defensive structure down first. I guess this would explain why they call Renney a “defense first” coach.
Update, 9:15 p.m.:Â This Nedved guy won’t go away. The center wrists a shot that is tippedby Aaron Voros past Scott Clemmensen, but it takes a video review to confirm it was a goal. Devils 3, Rangers 2. That’s three points in two games for a guy who supposedly has no shot of making this team. If I’m Tom Renney, I put Nedved right back in the lineup for tomorrow night, if only to test his durability.
Update, 9:13 p.m.: Never mind. Lafleur fails to cover up a rebound, and Parise flicks it past him, giving the Devils a 3-1 lead.
Update, 9:03 p.m.: Slight — emphasis on slight — signs of life from the Rangers in the third period, particularly a growing chemistry between Nigel Dawes and Chris Drury. You’d think because Drury is the center he should be more of the playmaker while Dawes at wing should be the finisher. The reality is just the opposite. Dawes set up Drury with passes in the slot twice in the last shift.
I’ll have more on the expanded role the likes of Dawes, Callahan, Prucha, and Dubinsky are expected to take in tomorrow’s paper.
Update, 8:14 p.m.: Just think, the tens of fans here were able to see Antoine Lafleur make his NHL preseason debut. Henrik Lundqvist leaves after stopping 13 of 15 shots.
Update, 7:45 p.m.: So there’s your reason to amend the rule below. Nedved coughs up the puck, Devils go back ahead 2-1 after a goofy bounce. A fairly sloppy game so far, which I suppose is a superfluous statement for a preseason game.
Update, 7:21 p.m.: The Nedved plot thickens. The center shovels a pass to Brian Fahey at the point, and Fahey buries the shot to tie the game. New rule: you can’t cut a guy if he’s riding a multiple-game point scoring streak.
Update, 7:02 p.m.: Plenty of good seats available here at The Rock. Like pretty much all of them…
Earlier: Is it possible I’m sick of hockey already?
Of course not. I was just making sure you were paying attention.
But I will say that this back-to-back-to-back-to-back stretch the Rangers are in the midst of is a tad extreme. That said, this is the Devils, and we haven’t seen the likes of Chris Drury and Nigel Dawes since as far back as Saturday, so every game adds another layer of intrigue.
A couple of updates:
<li>The Rangers’ plans for paring down their roster is coming into sharper focus. The plan is to re-assign players to Hartford on Friday, probably carry a few more for Saturday’s game against the Devils, then make more cuts before heading to Europe. Tom Renney said the number of players who will travel overseas will be certainly less than 30, and more likely will fall in the 25 to 26 range.
“We have significant decisions to make. Some people are making it very interesting and our total focus is on those guys,” Renney said. “You want to get to your team as quickly as you can, but that players have made it tough on you is a credit to them.”
<li>I asked Renney how he will approach the two exhibition games in Bern, because trust me, neither game is being taken lightly over there. One of the opponents will be the host city playing in front of its home crowd. And the other game, the Victoria Cup match against Metallurg Magnitogorsk, is being viewed in some quarters — certainly not by the Rangers — as a grudge match between the NHL and the upstart KHL.
“I approach them as getting the New York Rangers ready to play in the National Hockey League,” he said.
But that’s not the same thing as playing to win, I said.
“You don’t play to lose,” Renney said. “Weâ€™re preparing our team for the season and weâ€™re preparing to win. Iâ€™m not going down that road withÂ Magnitogorsk saying this is the be-all, end-all of hockey 1972 revisited. I think itâ€™s a huge opportunity to marry the two factions — the European and North AmericanÂ factions — together. Thatâ€™s how we approach it. We want to win the hockey game. We want to continue to hone our game so we can come back here and go after a Stanley Cup.
<li>Renney was asked in a roundabout way if Brendan Shanahan’s window of opportunity is closing seeing how the Rangers leave for Europe on Saturday.
“It’s not Saturday yet,” Renney said.
Asked if a player like Shanahan could be brought to Europe at the 11th hour, Renney sounded non-commital.
“I don’t see why not,” Renney said. “But as far as I’m concerned it’s really concentrate on what’s in front of me.”
Personally, I don’t see it happening.