Monday, September 26, 2011

Rangers Flyers Fallout: Sauer Out A Week; Thuresson, Deveaux Cut; Mitchell Amongst Standouts

The New York Rangers finished the North American portion of their preseason with a 5-3 loss in Philadelphia.  The game was sloppy and contentious game with few highlights for the Rangers, so let us just get to the news and reviews.

Michael Sauer, who left the game after slamming his right shoulder into the boards, has a sprained shoulder, which is expected to sideline him for a week.

The two cuts were Andreas Thuresson and Andre Deveaux as expected.  Thuresson was solid in the game and scored a goal for the Rangers while Deveaux did not do a whole lot other than get into another altercation.

Speaking of Avery, he had a very strong start to the game with his work leading to the first goal and baiting Simmonds into a penalty, but then Avery spoiled some of that taking a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct that led to a Flyers power play goal.

John Mitchell, Brian Boyle and Mats Zuccarello were the best Rangers tonight.  Mitchell scored a goal and rang another shot off the post.  Boyle deflected a Dan Girardi point shot in for a power play goal and was back to last year’s form after a subpar performance on Friday.  Zuccarello continued his strong camp with a solid effort and made himself noticeable out there.

Hagelin and Bourque had a few moments, but Mitchell right now appears to be the biggest threat to make the team of those not in the top 12. 

Tim Erixon didn’t impress again tonight and is slowly having his chance slip away other than the injury status of Staal and Sauer. 

Del Zotto had another up and down game as he started very strong, but then struggled when he was put against better competition later in the game.  Pairing him with Erixon was an awful move as the pair struggled together and exposed both of their weaknesses.  With Erixon failing to raise his level it might come down to Del Zotto fighting with Brendan Bell.

Video: Wayne Simmonds Uses Homophobic Slur At Sean Avery

Just a few days ago Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds was the victim of racial taunting when a fan threw a banana at the African American forward as he took his shootout attempt.  One would think having just gone through that he would know better, but tonight during the first period against the New York Rangers Simmonds clearly appears to use a homophobic slur towards Sean Avery.

Video via @TwoLinePass

Video: Glen Sather Guarantees Rangers Victory In Winter Classic, Stanley Cup

The National Hockey League finally officially announced this afternoon, that the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will face off in the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizen's Bank Park on January 2 at 1:00 p.m.  The announcement of the game or the continuing of the relationship with HBO’s 24/7 were not surprises. 
The cordial nature of the festivities was too much to be believable given the rivalry between the two cities and their sports franchises.  To spice things up Rangers GM Glen Sather threw some fuel on the fire to get under the skin of the Philadelphia Flyers' fans who were in attendance.  He certainly managed to do that and get a rise out of Flyers owner Ed Snider along the way when he guaranteed  not only a Rangers win in the game, but that the Rangers would have the Stanley Cup and Yankees the World Series title. 

“"We are going to come to Philadelphia and we are going to win."
"At the end of the year, we are going to be carrying the Cup. Just like the Yankees are going to win the World Series."

That Glen Sather could have that kind of personality is not unknown, but he has hidden it during his time in New York.  Maybe Sather is going to bring some of it back this year because he finally has confidence that the product on the ice can back up the talk he is putting out there.  Sather has laid out the expectations for the hockey club and now it is up to the Rangers team to have his back.

Staal Flying To Europe This Week; Wolski Out With Groin Issue, Hagelin In

Per Andrew Gross, Rangers GM Glen Sather said this afternoon that Marc Staal is scheduled to fly to Europe to meet the team on Thursday or Friday of this week.  That is great news for those who were worried about him not taking the flight with the team today.  Sather added that Staal is in excellent shape and that he is confident he will be ready when the season starts. 

Even more interesting than that is Sather saying that the problem with Staal might not be a concussion at all and could be something more along the lines of migraines or a slipped disc.  While migraines or a slipped disc are certainly not good issues to have, the treatment for them is more understood.   That will something interesting to follow over the next few days and see what the organization has to say on that.

In other injury news, Wojtek Wolski is out tonight with a slight groin pull and Carl Hagelin will take his place. This is yet another chance for Hagelin to make an impression in hopes of making the lineup.  Hagelin has not been very impactful in the first two games, but he has shown some of the work down low, and plays away from the puck along with his noted speed.  Tonight he will be in the lineup with Zuccarello, Avery, Christensen, Weise and Ryan Bourque who have to be considered the competition for the final couple forward spots so it is time to step it up.

Del Zotto Seemingly Controls His Own Fate

The 2010-11 season was a nightmare for Michael Del Zotto as he not only failed to build on a promising rookie campaign with the New York Rangers, but he regressed to the point that he was benched and eventually demoted to the AHL.  To make matters worse for the young defenseman, following his final demotion to Hartford he was injured and missed the end of the season.   The bad news continued as Del Zotto had sports hernia surgery in May and left many wondering what version of Del Zotto would arrive at Rangers training camp this month.
Reports from training camp thus far have painted a picture of focused and in shape Del Zotto who is looking to reclaim his spot on the backline for New York.  Entering camp he was expected to battle with rookie Tim Erixon, veteran Steve Eminger amongst others to see who would fill the Rangers final two defensive spots.  With the North American part of training camp set to wrap up tonight with the Rangers third preseason game it appears that Del Zotto is in control of his own fate.  This week the Rangers have done work in practice using what is being taken as their top group and in each instance Del Zotto has found himself, along with Steve Eminger, on the Rangers third defensive pair.
His place, presumably within the top six, is not guaranteed to him for opening night, but it is always easier to keep a job than steal one away.  In the first two preseason games Del Zotto has had his moments of improved play, but still far too many moments of forced passed, broken coverages and just failing to play the simple hockey the coaching staff asked him to work on doing.
There was a five minute stretch in the third period against the Devils Friday night where Del Zotto seemed to have something click for him.  He was rushing the puck through the neutral zone, making short/smart passes to his teammates and even saved a scoring chance against with a beautiful diving defensive play.  It was a flash of the tremendous skill that Del Zotto has and while he has not shown it consistently in the first two preseason games, one must presume that he is showing it in camp to be inside the top six right now.   It also helps that none of the other defenders in the competition have really had standout performances to this point in preseason. 
Regardless, the reality is Del Zotto has learned that nothing is going to be handed to him and has come to camp with the attitude that he wants his spot back.  To this point he appears to have it and now it is up to him to not let anyone else snatch it away.