Monday, December 27, 2010

Weekend Recap: Zuccarello Proves He Belongs, Called Back; Better W/O Gabby?; Gaborik Groin Better?; MDZ Out; WJC

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Been a quiet few days for the Rangers and the league, so might as well wrap up the holiday break all at once.  On Friday following his excellent debut I discussed how the play of Mats Zuccarello-Aasen would force the Rangers to find him a spot because he proved he belonged at this level and due to the team needing to add more talent to the lineup.  I went through a few different permeations of what that might look like in the short term and it seems as if the Rangers at least somewhat agree as they have recalled Zuccarello for the game against the Islanders Monday night.

On Saturday I took a look at the Rangers play with and without Marian Gaborik and asked if the team was better off without their most skilled offensive weapon in the lineup.   Yes, I know it sounds kind of counterintuitive to ask if a team that lacks talent as the Rangers do, but in watching the Rangers mentality with and without Gaborik out there you notice a distinct difference in how they play that makes the question not so far-fetched.  The mentality difference in the club is not directly Gaborik’s fault, but combine that with him being below that is expected of him in terms of impact on a consistent basis and it raises some red flags.  The Rangers have been successful from playing to a certain identity this season and they seem to decrease the urgency of playing that way with Marian out there.

Along with the recall of Zuccarello there was news on Marian Gaborik getting better and Michael Del Zotto still being out of the lineup for the game.  I went through what was said about Gaborik in that he is improving and hopeful to play along with the discrepancies between his course of events and that which John Tortorella laid out concerning the timing of his injury.  In addition I looked at the lines from today’s practice how they might look tomorrow upon Zuccarello’s return and whether how they are likely to look is how they should actually be.  Finally in discussing Del Zotto there was an update on his health, which is improving and the reason he will still be out tomorrow.

Also on Sunday I took a look at Roman Horak and Jesper Fasth the Rangers forgotten prospects in the World Junior Championship.   These two seem to have gotten lost in the focus on Team USA and Rangers prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque being on the team.  I did not want Horak and Fasth to get ignored so I did a write-up on what was originally expected of these guys; scouting reports on their games; what they can become down the line. Fasth would record 1A today in Sweden’s 7-1 blowout of Norway, while Horak will not begin his tournament until tomorrow

Finally there is a video highlight package from the Team USA vs Team Finland game which includes Joni Ortio robbing Rangers prospect Chris Kreider of a sure goal.  Ortio was the best player on the ice in the game, with Nick Bjugstad being the best USA player.  Kreider and Bourque both played their games well.  Bourque played an energetic game and combined with Bjugstad and Jeremy Morin to be the best line for the USA squad.   Kreider showcased his speed numerous times and had an assist on the first goal for Team USA.