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.