Friday, September 30, 2011

Lundqvist Stellar In Emotional Return to Frolunda

Everyone new today was going to be a big day for New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist as he returned home, not only to Sweden, but to his former club Frolunda.  Before the game the Frolunda franchise did themselves extremely proud with a moving tribute to their former netminder that Lundqvist himself said after the game nearly had him in tears.  Lundqvist entered to an ovation fitting of a king and he played like it with 32 saves in the Rangers 4-2 win.
The Rangers got on the board when Ryan Bourque sprung Kris Newbury for a goal over the shoulder.  It was another play by Bourque to make the Rangers coaching staff take notice of his all-around game, but it still likely won’t be enough for him to be on the roster for opening night.
After taking and killing off numerous penalties to start the second period, Michael Del Zotto would put the Rangers up when Mats Zuccarello found him pinching to the slot.  The goal for Del Zotto had to feel good for him, but the play was made by Zuccarello who shined in this game.  Zuccarello was not done with Del Zotto’s setup as he had another brilliant pass for Erik Christensen who scored on a low shot to make it 3-1 New York.  If he was not already a lock to make the roster before the game, Zuccarello’s performance in his return to Sweden should clinch it for him.  Maybe Zuccarello was more comfortable on the bigger ice surface, but the plays for the goals were not a product of that difference.  With playmaking skills like that he can be a huge contributor for New York this year if paired with Derek Stepan again.
Lundqvist was beaten in the third with Del Zotto in the box, but Mike Rupp would seal the game with just 3:12 left off a feed from Brendan Bell.
  • Lundqvist is the easy choice for standout player today as he was brilliant in keeping the team alive when they took far too many penalties.  Great move by the organization giving Lundqvist the “A” for the game.
  • Zuccarello as I mentioned earlier continued his excellent showing this year and just looks more confident in what he is doing this season.
  • Hopefully Christensen’s goal does not become an excuse to keep him around
  • Erixon was much better today, but the question remains if it was too late for him
  • Del Zotto is getting his offensive instincts back, which is certainly good news, but there is still work to be done.
  • Bell continues to keep his name in the conversation
  • As a team the penalties need to stop as this has been a trend in their preseason games.  Yes, a lot of young players were in the lineup today, but it is ridiculous the number of penalties and 5-on-3 advantages they are giving against.

Rangers Will Sit Big Names Except Lundqvist Vs Frolunda; Sauer Back On Ice

After going with almost their entire forward roster yesterday, Dan Rosen of tweeted that the New York Rangers are going with a thin roster today in Henrik Lundqvist’s return to Frolunda. 
NYR going w/ thin lineup. Anisimov, Gaborik, Richards, Callahan, Dubi, Stepan, Girardi, Fedotenko, McDonagh, Sauer, Eminger all scratched.
With that list of scratches that would leave the Rangers without most of their top offensive and defensive players today, but it also leads to a different kind of intrigue as much of the lineup will be those players battling for roster spots.  Up front the Rangers will still have Boyle, Wolski, Prust, Zuccarelo and Rupp, but on the blue line it will be all AHL and prospects in the lineup.  This should mean another look at Dylan McIlrath while Del Zotto, Erixon, Bell, and Bickel continue their battle to crack the roster.

In other news, Rosen reports that Michael Sauer is back at practice today, though he was skating with the scratches, which is very good news that his recently sprained shoulder is getting better and he should be ready for next week's opener.