1) Alain Vigneault claimed to not have known which players wore captains’ letters Friday night, because, you know, he wasn’t behind the bench. He was upstairs with GM Glen Sather discussing roster options/cap space/contract limits/long-term injured reserve and all the stuff the Rangers have to figure out by Tuesday. I’m not sure I buy that. Martin St. Louis, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal each wore the “A” against Chicago, and I think, unless he goes to home and away alternates, those will be the three captains on opening night. Not sure which one gets the “C” though.
2) St. Louis at center. He struggled on draws early, though only one was a clean loss. The teamwork off the draw on the power play led to his really nice deflection on the power-play goal. I thought he looked fine at center, but AV didn’t seem thrilled with it, and since St. Louis isn’t playing tonight in Newark, I think that experiment might be over for the time being. I don’t think you go off that performance and start him at center in St. Louis (the city). As AV said this week, in his system the positions aren’t so defined once the puck is dropped. I do think that St. Louis, at 39, is going to easily be the best offensive player the Rangers have had since Jaromir Jagr.
3) Anthony Duclair. I think the vote on the Lars-Erik Sjoberg award for best rookie in camp was unanimous. I also think that, unless they can’t move a contract by Tuesday, he starts with the big club. How long he stays is another matter. They can send him down if he struggles, but he’s making it. The Rangers seem confident they can move a contract and get him on the roster. How about Duclair going back at Andrew Shaw? In the third, he used his wheels to get position on Daniel Carcillo, took the puck and moved it, resulting in a Rick Nash to St. Louis 2-on-1. Duclair drew the penalty to Patrick “20 Cent” Kane in the third. Wow.
4) AV watching from up top reminds me of a story from the old Shea Stadium. After a game, Davey Johnson had to do a meet and greet or something in the Diamond Club, which was behind the pressbox. After it ended, Johnson walked through the pressbox where the writers were pounding out stories on deadline. Johnson looked out over the field and cracked, “Hey, it really does look easier from up here.”
6) Daily Nash-O-Meter. Had a tough night, I thought. Had some chances. Jumped right into the fray when Duclair and Shaw came together. Had some contact, including a hit on Dan Girardi. Fell down on the Hawks’ second goal. Has 0-1-1 in three games, a playoff pace. Missed the net in the shootout. Starting to think I might not do the O-Meter anymore.
7) Tanner Glass = 2-0. How about the between-the-legs, blind pass to Kevin Hayes for the one-timer in the third?
8) Chris Kreider nearly killed Carcillo on an accidental collision in open ice in the second. Still can’t get a sniff of OT until the final seconds. But Duclair did. Also passed over in the shootout for some reason. I don’t get it. Do you?
10) Ryan Malone is/was not assured of a spot coming in. I thought he played an aggressive, if somewhat undisciplined at times, game. Then showed some hands on the sweet setup by Miller for the tying goal. Carcillo helped create that goal by running around after he got rocked by Girardi. Malone said he felt he needed to get noticed … so he went out and won it in the shootout, too.
11) Matt Hunwick and Michael Kostka both looked decent. Think the No. 7 D-man job is a really tough call right now. If the righty stays and they need a lefty, they make the call to Hartford. If they need a longer-term solution, they see if Conor Allen or somebody is playing well in Hartford. Looks like Dylan McIlrath is headed back to the AHL, too, BTW. Not that it’s a surprise. But he’s not playing in Newark.
12) Something new this year: Zambonis on ice between the third period and OT. Teams remain on benches. There must be fewer TV timeouts, because the third period ended at 9:18. Awesome for deadlines. Also something new: Coaches don’t have to submit their three shooters for the shootout. Can do it one by one.
13) The Blackhawks didn’t exactly dress the A team (or Brad Richards) for their last preseason game. They still have to make a trade of some significance to get under the cap by Tuesday, BTW. They really do get away with a lot of obstruction, like Detroit does. But they’re loaded for bear again.
14) You know what? A shootout is the perfect way to end a tied game. A tied preseason game with nothing at stake.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Malone.
2. Henrik Lundqvist.
3. J.T. Miller.
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. tie, Ryan Malone and Henrik Lundqvist.
2. tie, Martin St. Louis and Anthony Duclair.
Photos by Getty Images.