There are positives. The exhibition games are over. The boys will get off the road. No one was hurt. They are tied for first place going into the regular season. And there are more than a few young players that will have an impact on this team. It might not be this year. But next year could be different. Much better. Players like Lindberg, Miller, Hrivik, Fast, Allen, and Kristo are going to be impressive someday. There are, however, going to be growing pains.
Record-wise, the NY Rangers have not had a terrific 2013 preseason. But these games are meaningless in the grand scheme. They don’t count. Of course, there are plenty of excuses. There is always an excuse. Stepan and Callahan, two of their better players, have missed every game. AV has been more concerned assembling his team than trying to win games. He has given the young kids a chance to play. It makes sense. He is new to the team and he is trying to learn who he has and what they can do. That said, there is plenty to be worried about this year. These include but are not limited to: scoring, playing defense, goaltending (who knew?) the penalty kill, the power play, taking really stupid penalties, team toughness and team speed. Gasp, is there anything left? They are also tied for last place. It’s a long way till May. Let’s hope for the best.
1) Richards is a very good player. Great vision, soft hands, good shot, fast skater, excellent passer….Unfortunately for us, his name is Mike not Brad. Torts, even though he waited too long, made the correct decision by benching Ritchie Rocket last year. It was all but certain that the Rocket would be bought out this summer, wasn’t it? How did this not happen?
2) More Rocket. To his credit, Brad is improved over last year. For one, this preseason he didn’t fall down twice each shift. Last year, he couldn’t stay upright. But there are glaring chinks in his game. The play is much faster than Richards sees it. He makes poor decisions, bad passes, and is slow.
3) Yet more Rocket. It’s not the money (well, yes it is), it’s not his diminished skill (well, yes it is), it’s that his presence takes up a valuable spot on the team and in the lineup. He cannot play top six, he doesn’t hit, and can’t play defense. Where do you put him? Fourth line? Yikes! One of the kids that will be demoted shouldn’t be sent down. The Rocket does not belong on this team. What is AV going to do?
4) Hank is not ready yet. World class goalie for sure. But he hasn’t look sharp this preseason. Is it the new system? His smaller pads? Rust that will wear off? Clearly, the King’s play is not the Rangers biggest problem going into the season but his extension, years/money, is a dilemma.
5) Miller, Lindberg, and Hrivik looked really good. At times AV double shifted this line. They are quick, good passers, and pay with passion. They showed on ice chemistry. Soon enough.
7) Joe M said that Powe had a tremendous camp and that he was the best looking Ranger this preseason. I guess there is no accounting for taste as he isn’t anywhere as pretty as Duguay. Seriously though, how can Powe, brown cow, even make this team? He didn’t show me much.
8) Stralman. Top 3 pair? Not many teams could make that boast. Kopitar went around Stralman like a practice pylon. Too much money for too little ability, I’d argue.
9) Mashinter. A big tough dude. Did he take a stupid penalty? Yes! It sure was nice, however, watching him toss Nolan around like a rag doll. We haven’t had that kind of big, mean, nasty in a long, long time. He won’t make the big club but I wish there was a way to keep him.
10) The Ranger D are stepping up into the play and MDZ was off on a 2-1 and hit the net. He had the Rocket to his right. But Richards shoots left and MDZ made the right play. We should expect more scoring from the blue line than we had with Torts as coach…..and this is important because…
12) Nash is lazy, takes stupid penalties, and tries to do too much. How many times did Nash go one on four last night? Is it because no other Ranger can join him and find space? Or is he a puck hog? He has more skill than anyone on the team and if the Rangers are to do anything this year, Nash must have a big year.
13) Did you see Coach Sutter’s post game interview…I caught this Daryl comment “whabba tubba dubba wubba hubba gobba dobba” Not sure what the question was and I definitely didn’t understand the answer.
14) Lets hope we have a great season. See you on the blog. Ricardo, thanks for letting me….and here’s to Guest Blogger’s Stink getting all excited reading this :)
Eddie, Eddie, Eddie’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. J.T. Miller.
2. Marek Hrivik.
3. Oscar Lindberg.
Photos by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.