Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rangers Prospects Dominate Again With 6-2 Win Over Dallas

Previewing the Traverse City Tournament I said that it was impressive the level of talent the New York Rangers system continues to produce.  Through two games the young Rangers have proven that part right and surprised me with just how impressive they have been in these two performances.  The team followed their excellent showing against St. Louis with just as dominating an exhibition against Dallas.

Offensively the team has 11 goals, but beyond the number of goals the way they have played has been exciting to watch.  The combination of phenomenal passing, explosive speed, driving the net, and unselfishness to go with their skill gives the belief that there is nothing lucky about what this collection of prospects has done in their first two games. The passing has been unbelievably crisp for a collection of players that was only together for one 40 minute practice before the tournament.

Defensively they have done enough in shutting down gaps and limiting odd-man rushes against.  Tonight Scott Stajcer was very good in net showing good positioning and more importantly staying tall in net.  Too often bigger goaltenders take away their size advantage by crouching or going down, but Stajcer stayed upright and tall in the chest and took away much of the net tonight.

  • Ryan Bourque was the star tonight with two goals and more of his all-around play.  His hustle, work ethic and overall skill give hope that he can defy conventional wisdom as Callahan does.  That has become the fun comparison for Bourque partially because of him saying it a few weeks back and he has certainly channeled Callahan the past few games.
  • J.T. Miller was significantly better tonight than in the first game as he played his game down low controlling the puck and showing excellent vision/passing ability tonight.  His goal was a dirty type goal as he attacked the front of the net and took advantage of the scramble play.
  • Dylan McIlrath was good today with his positioning and stood up for his teammates with a fight he soundly won.
  • Tim Erixon was excellent again even if not as flashy as last night.  Erixon just makes the simple, smart plays and his ability running the power play stands out more and more.  Excellent stick work defensively and was more physical tonight as well.
  • Blake Parlett’s offensive skill stood out again tonight as he skates very well and his passing is on point.
  • Christian Thomas still hasn’t scored but he is dangerous each time he hits the ice.
  • Shane McColgan did a lot of impressive things tonight with an excellent play for a goal and immediately dropping the gloves to stand up for Christian Thomas after he took a wicked hit from behind.  McColgan is not big so his feisty play is something he will need with his skill to make it at the NHL level.

Video: Dylan McIlrath Dominates Olivier D'Aoust in Fight

Dylan McIlrath is known as someone that will defend his teammates and he continued that tonight as Olivier D'Aoust was "picking on the smaller younger guys" according to McIlrath and he took care of it in dropping the gloves to defend them.

Tim Erixon Makes Strong First Impression In Rangers Uniform

When the 2010-11 season ended for the New York Rangers their defense was certainly not considered a need area, but that did not stop GM Glen Sather from taking advantage of the contract situation between Tim Erixon and the Calgary Flames to trade for the talented young defender.  In the NHL you can never have enough talent or enough assets and Sather stuck to that line of thinking in adding to an already deep defense system.  At the time of the trade Tim Erixon was talked about as being NHL ready right now and while last night was only one game at a prospect tournament, Erixon certainly looked the part of an NHL player.  The Rangers defense is set at four spots, but the final two spots are certainly up for grabs heading into training camp with Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger and Erixon seen as the main three competitors for the spots heading into it. 
Last night Erixon showed tremendous poise, very good vision, excellent passing instincts with a hard shot that he was not afraid to take.   Watching Erixon quarterback the power play was a pleasure both for what he was able to do and the distinctions between him and how badly the Rangers defenders were at it last season.  There was no flash to how Erixon played, but there was a calm cerebral aspect to his game that was impressive as the game appeared to be moving in slow motion at times for him.  His patience in deciding whether to pass, where to pass and his quick decision making on firing his excellent shot made the game look easy.  He looked like a veteran doing so as his calm, composed demeanor out there showed more instincts in doing so than any other defender currently on the Rangers roster.  If Erixon can continue to show the range of offensive skills that he did last night and be solid in his own end throughout the rest of the Traverse City tournament he will definitely go into camp with an excellent chance to make the team on opening night.
Regardless of whether Erixon can continue to play as well as he did last night for the rest of the tournament and in training camp against the NHL caliber players, he showed flashes last night that the talent is certainly there for him to be yet another excellent young defender for the Rangers in the near future.  He can either make the team out of camp or take the Ryan McDonagh path in playing part of his first professional year in the AHL before joining the NHL roster.  The biggest reason for him to potentially start the year in the AHL would be the adjustment to the rink size which Erixon noted himself in his interview after the second period. 
It was only one game, but last night’s performance was an excellent first impression and should reassure any who doubted before that Glen Sather got another steal for the Rangers young defense corps when he traded for Tim Erixon this summer.