Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rangers vs Devils Recap; Who Stood Out, Who Fell Down

The Rangers blew a two goal lead tonight, but pulled out the 4-3 win in another sloppy preseason performance. The Rangers got off to a slow start when Brian Boyle took a penalty just 38 seconds into the game.  During the ensuing power play Brendan Bell could not control the pick and Adam Henrique made then pay just 1:32 into the game.

The Rangers responded when their top line created a series of chances ending with Brad Richards scoring 4:22 in. Derek Stepan kept it going with a beautiful snipe at the 5:43 mark.  After Bryce Salvador took a bad interference penalty to open the second period Marian Gaborik made it 3-1 just 1:32 in. The goal was on a scramble play in the slot where Gaborik pounced bringing back memories of 2009-10 when he vultured so many goals.

The Devils got one back during 4-on- 4 action at 7:36. Brad Richards over stickhandling in his own end turned the puck over to Kovalchuk leading to a Josefson backhand goal top shelf.  Late in the second Ilya Kovalchuk tied it 3-3 with just one second left on a two man advantage. Once again Kovalchuk scored on the Rangers because he was given way too much time and space.

Brendan Bell scored with just 3:04 left to give the Rangers the lead back. After the goal Mike Rupp and Eric Boulton dropped the gloves for an excellent fight.  With just 2:22 left the Devils momentarily appeared to tie three game, but the goal was waived off after Palmieri was called for goalie interference. The Devils swarmed late, but couldn't tie it.

Few standout performances from this one, as, only Stepan, McDonagh and Sauer really had good games.
Zuccarello, Richards, Gaborik had moments, but nothing consistent.  Really liked what Mike Rupp brought to the team.

Valentenko clearly wasn't ready for the NHL tonight, Erixon was still playing scared and Del Zotto other than one stretch in the third was still struggling.

Rangers Make First Cut; Hope Remains For Number of Prospects

The New York Rangers completed their first set of cuts today and while there were a few surprises it was mainly what was expected.  
Players sent to Hartford: 
G: Chad Johnson, Jason Missianen, Cam Talbot;
D: Lee Baldwin, Collin Bowman, Sam Klassen, Tomas Kundratek, Jyri Niemi, Jared Nightingale, Pavel Valentenko
F: Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Tommy Grant, Jordan Hickmott, Tayler Jordan, Kale Kerbashian, Chad Kolarik, Chris McKelvie, Matt Rust, Scott Tanski, Kelsey Tessier and Jason Wilson.

Players sent back to Juniors: 
D Peter Ceresnak, Sam Noreau; 
F: Shane McColgan, J.T. Miller, Michael St. Croix, Christian Thomas, Andrew Yogan

Players remaining in camp: 
G: Biron, Lundqvist, Stajcer; 
D: Bell, Bickel, Del Zotto, Eminger, Erixon, Girardi, McDonagh, McIlrath, Parlett, Sauer, Staal; 
F: Anisimov, Avery, Bourque, Boyle, Callahan, Christensen, Deveaux, Dubinsky, Fedotenko, Gaborik, Hagelin, Mitchell, Newbury, Prust, Richards, Rupp, Stepan, Thuresson, Weise, Wolski, Zuccarello

Biggest surprises include Scott Stajcer being the third goalie for the Europe trip, Stu Bickel, Andre Deveaux, and Andres Thuresson stilling being in camp.  Also a little surprised that J.T. Miller was cut, but it is the smart move since he wasn't going to make the roster and better for him to get the couple weeks playing games in Juniors.  
Rangers decision to keep McIlrath in camp was one that he earned from his excellent showing Wednesday night and if others do not step their respective game up a few levels he might just steal a roster spot a year early.
Disappointing performance by Valentenko to get himself cut when it was all lined up for him to make an impression and make the club.

Brendan Bell Making Best Case of Those Competing For Final D Spots

When the New York Rangers opened training camp last week much of the talk surrounding the battle(s) to fill out the defensive corps revolved around Tim Erixon, Michael Del Zotto and to a lesser extent Pavel Valentenko.  After two preseason games the best defender that was not a New York Ranger when last season ended has been Brendan Bell.  Erixon has played scared for the better part of two games.  Del Zotto has had moments of very good things, but seems to manage to match them with many of the same mistakes that cost him his spot last season.  As for Valentenko, he looked overmatched last night in New Jersey. 

All of these things have left an opening for Bell and he is working his way through the door.  Bell has not been spectacular in either game, but of the group he has been the steadiest.  In Albany he did not look out of place early when paired with Dan Girardi and against the Devils last night other than a gaffe on the first goal he was solid again.  Given the uncertainty surrounding Marc Staal and his health status the Rangers would love to have a more experienced defender, though most of Bell’s experience is AHL, be able to be in the lineup.  The big things working in Bell’s favor are his steady play in his own zone and his willingness to shoot the puck.  Bell is by no means a lock to make the team as the Rangers would likely rather have Erixon and/or Del Zotto win these spots outright, but as long as the young players continue to just get by in games there is an opportunity for Bell to claim it away.  His biggest competition, right now, might actually be Dylan McIlrath, but not sure the Rangers want to bring him up just yet.