Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rangers Announce Roster Vs Flyers; Two Cuts Still Coming

Update: Wojtek Wolski is out with a groin issue and Carl Hagelin in.

Tomorrow will mark the Rangers final preseason game in North America and the roster for the game, if not the lines/pairings has been announced.  Jesse Spector has the details:
Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Biron
Defense: Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh,  Mike Sauer, Stu Bickel, Tim Erixon
Forwards: Sean Avery, Brandon Dubinsky, Brian Boyle, Dale Weise, Andre Deveaux, John Mitchell, Mats Zuccarello, Erik Christensen, Artem Anisimov, Andreas Thuresson, Ryan Bourque, Wojtek Wolski.

Expect Del Zotto to start the game with Girardi while Erixon plays with Bickel, but Erixon could get some time there during the game.

No Richards, Gaborik, Callahan, Stepan or Rupp up front, but that was to be expected with a number of other forwards battling for spots.  Of those battling only Carl Hagelin and Kris Newbury have been left out of the lineup.  Christensen and Avery need to show something tomorrow to keep their spots while players like Bourque and Weise look to continue building on their other preseason performances.

The Rangers are expected to cut two forwards after tomorrow's game and the logical choices at the moment would have to be  Andre Deveaux and Andreas Thuresson.

Marc Staal Not Travelling To Europe With Team

Rangers head coach John Tortorella announced after Sunday's practices that Marc Staal will not be one of the people on the plane traveling to Europe following tomorrow night's pre-season game in Philadelphia.  This should not be a surprise give how limited Staal has been during training camp and the length of travel the team is making only makes this decision easier for the organization.  Flying with concussion symptoms, especially headaches, is not advisable and the Rangers goal with Staal has to be to have him as much as possible this season, not to focus on the season opener.  However, coach Tortorella did not rule Staal out of the opener on Oct. 7.  The next update on Staal is not expected for 4-5 days as he is going to continue working with specialists here in hopes of returning to the team for opening night.   

There is good news on Staal in that he was back on the ice practicing with the team today for the first time in three days, so hopefully he continues to improve over the course of the week.  The cautious approach is definitely the right one and while concern is certainly warranted, it is not time for panic.

"He will not be on the trip," stated Tortorella. "We are hoping as he continues his procedures with the specialists that I will have an update in 4-5 days. We're gonna try and get him on the trip. Once he's ready to do all the stuff we want him to do to prepare for the regular season, we'll have him come out." Tortorella did not rule out Staal---who has been experiencing headaches since the summer---from playing in the season opener in Stockholm October 7th. (NHL/Getty Images)

Rangers Finally Found Right Tough Guy in Mike Rupp

The New York Rangers have invested big money in each of the past three offseasons, trying to find a heavyweight who can both fight and bring toughness to the team.

The first experiment was with Donald Brashear in 2009. That failed in record time, and the Rangers ended up trading him the following summer just to eliminate his contract from the books. The following summer saw the Rangers give noted fighter Derek Boogaard a four-year, $6.5 million contract. Boogaard’s first season with the Rangers was not what anyone hoped. He died in May of an accidental overdose of oxycodone and alcohol, so we will never know what could have changed over the course of his contract. But the fit never felt quite right.

With the loss of Boogaard, Rangers general manager Glen Sather took another swing at finding the heavyweight he has been searching for. Sather signed center Mike Rupp away from the Penguins to a three-year, $4.5 million contract.

After only one preseason game, Friday night's 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils, it appears Sather finally has gotten the right guy for the job. The differences in what Rupp brings to the team were apparent immediately Friday night at Newark.

Rupp has the skating ability to keep up with the play, which allows him to be the intimidating force by using his body to punish the opposition. Rupp took each and every opportunity he had to deliver a hit, and the effectiveness he has will play well with coach John Tortorella’s fore-checking approach to create offense for Rupp’s linemates.

Beyond that, Rupp is known for ability in front to screen and pester opposing goaltenders, which is something that the Rangers have not been good at over the past few seasons. If Rupp can not only add that for himself but also teach players such as Brian Boyle how to do the same, it can pay dividends throughout the lineup.

The biggest complaint that most people had about Boogaard, besides his contract, was that he did not have that instinct to protect his teammates in the same way that a Colton Orr did. Boogaard would fight any heavyweight out there but was reluctant to fight smaller guys. That left the protection duties mainly to Brandon Prust.

Rupp, meanwhile, has no hesitation to defend his teammates from whomever as he showed Friday night when New Jersey’s Eric Boulton was taking some liberties. Rupp immediately took action in a great fight. That instinct from Rupp will make Prust one of the biggest beneficiaries because Prust’s surgically repaired shoulder will need to do less fighting.

The past two years, Rangers fans have had their frustrations with the amount of money Sather has given out to enforcers. But Sather has made the right decision this summer in giving the money to a tough guy who brings more to the ice than just fighting ability. Rupp’s combination of some/limited offensive contribution, fit for the Tortorella system and instincts to defend his teammates make him a great fit for New York.