The New York Rangers played their way into the championship game at Traverse City, but there will be no championship coming back to New York following a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. The Rangers were outplayed for much of the game and while there is disappointment not getting the title, that should not take away from the overall success of the week.
The biggest Rangers highlights from tonight’s game were the two beautiful goals scored by J.T. Miller and Ryan Bourque. The goal by Miller was a tremendous one-timer from the slot to the upper corner, which was created by an excellent hustle effort from Carl Hagelin who fed Miller with a beautiful backhand pass. Ryan Bourque’s snipe capped an excellent tournament for him which has led many to rethink what they think Bourque’s future possibilities are.
Beyond the goals there was a lot to like in the way J.T. Miller and Carl Hagelin played tonight. These two handled the size and speed of the Sabres better than any of the other forwards out there. With Miller you saw his potential a power forward with his strength, especially down low with his work around the net.
For Hagelin this was the kind of game that shows why he cannot be discounted as a player to make this team out of camp. The play he made on Miller’s goal was phenomenal, the speed he exhibited throughout the game and his defensively responsible play all make him a perfect fit for coach John Tortorella’s system.
Defensively only Tim Erixon really played well tonight as he had another solid game from the blueline. Erixon is a cerebral blueliner in the mold of a Marc Staal in the fact that he uses his smarts as much as his skill to beat his opposition. For Erixon it is about position and stick use rather than power or speed.
Overall in the tournament the best players were Erixon, Hagelin and Bourque, though that is how it should be considering those three are likely the three most NHL ready players on the squad.