Click here for my story on Derek Stepan signing a new two-year contract, from The Journal News and lohud.com.
1) Huge day for the Rangers Thursday. Not only did they re-sign Derek Stepan — Glen Sather, tough negotiator, wins again — but just as critical is that Ryan Callahan was cleared for contact. And to me that pretty much ensures that he will be in the opening-night lineup too, regardless of what Alain Vigneault said post-game. The Rangers desperately need both of those guys. As for the game, well, I put zero stock in the outcome of a preseason game. Does anybody remember what their preseason record was in 2011-12? Or in 1993-94? Or ever?
2) Hey, Torts and Sully figured out the power play!! Seriously, though, the Canucks clearly looked like they’re buying into the wall-ball game that John Tortorella employed last year. Only it had a chance to succeed because the Canucks have a ton more skill than last year’s Rangers had.
3) One thing I’ve noticed, in addition to remaining on their feet, is that the Rangers defensemen are engaging their man in front and around the net. On each of the first two goals, Dan Girardi was physically battling his man instead of trying to do too much and chasing the puck. I like it. And if you like it, I’m guessing you can, in part, thank Ulf Samuelsson.
4) Brad Richards. What if he is not one of the top two centers this season? And if Rick Nash really is most comfortable with Derick Brassard, is Brassard then the first-line center?
5) I’m thinking Chris Kreider makes the team out of camp and gets a chance to stay or lose his job early in the season. But I don’t know that for sure, and so I’m thinking the final game of the preseason tonight is kind of a big one for Kreider … if he gets that chance to play.
6) Another good outing for J.T. Miller, I thought.
8) Not sure it’s a good thing for the Rangers to have all this time off, from Friday night until Thursday, before their opener, and that it will be a full week between games for Henrik Lundqvist. It most certainly isn’t a good thing for him to have to sit on that performance for a week, and so he’ll probably play tonight too. The King was in character last night, ticked off that he was bumped on the first goal. He was bumped. But he hates giving up goals, any time, anywhere. And he did give up a few too many, didn’t he? Holy shishkebob.
9) With Callahan and Stepan (and without Carl Hagelin) the Rangers still have to clip eight or nine players off the roster by Monday afternoon. Yikes.
10) Nice touch by MSG Network leading into the game with the 1994 Stanley Cup finals Game 7 between the same two teams.
11) Was wondering, as the Sedins celebrated their birthday and head into the walk year of their contracts, if in a salary cap world it will actually be possible for a team other than the Canucks to sign both of them as UFAs. I imagine it wouldn’t be possible for them to remain together if they actually hit the market, though the Canucks might get a discount to keep them together.
12) Next up: Los Angeles in Las Vegas tonight.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. John Moore.
2. Derek Dorsett.
3. Martin Biron.
Photos by the Associated Press.