Category: Preseason

Preseason Game 6: Rangers at HC Slovan

OPPONENT: HC Slovan

NOTABLE NHLers: None, but they do have a Lubomir Visnovsky on their team, which made me do a double-take.

RANGERS LINEUP:
Brian Boyle-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan;
Ruslan Fedotenko-Erik Christensen-Brandon Prust
Mike Rupp-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger
Brendan Bell-Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

STATE OF THE BLUESHIRTS: After the third round of cuts, the Rangers are at just 25 players on their roster.  There are two positional battles remaining: the 13th forward and the last defenseman, so expect Sean Avery, Erik Christensen, Stu Bickel, and Brendan Bell to come out guns blazing.  For Christensen, Bell, and possible Avery, it could be their last real shot at an NHL club.

CRAZY THOUGHT:   Avery scores a goal.

OPPONENT’S BLOG: N/A

PREDICTION: Rangers 5, Slovan 3.

The game is on at 11am on MSG, right before the football games, solid timing there.

Erixon, Hagelin, Bourque Cut As Ranger Trim Roster

The New York Rangers announced their third round of cuts this morning, and while most of the eight players cut will not come as a surprise, the fact that Tim Erixon has been cut is a bit shocking.  The other seven players cut were Dylan McIlrath, Blake Parlett, Carl Hagelin, Ryan Bourque, Kris Newbury, John Mitchell, and Dale Weise.  Of these six players, only McIlrath will return to the CHL (Moose Jaw Warriors), while the other seven will report to Hartford and the CT Whale.

The fact that Erixon was cut is very surprising, as most fans had him pegged for a roster spot, especially after the Traverse City tournament.  He had a strong first preseason game, but has looked a little out of place in some of the other games.  He did make some mistakes and seemed to force things a bit, but that’s not to worry.  He will be able to work on these things in the AHL and he will likely be the first call in case of injury.

Hagelin, Newbury, and Weise are players that I expected to be cut, as they had been struggling to really perform well since the first preseason game.  Many had Hagelin pegged for a roster spot as well, but it was clear he needs to work on some things before making it to the show.  He has tremendous speed, but he needs to be more than a one trick pony, as I said in the Frolunda recap.  Newbury was always AHL bound, as was Weise.  There simply weren’t any roster spots for them.

That brings me to Bourque, who had a very good preseason, and jumped up the depth chart very quickly.  He may not be the first NHL call up for injury (expect that to be Newbury), but he had a very impressive camp.  He was a victim of the numbers game, but with at least three spots opening up next season, he will likely compete for one of those spots next year.

Back to Weise for a moment, I think that’s it for him in the Rangers organization.  He was given a real look at camp, which is something we haven’t been able to definitely say in the past few years, but he just can’t crack this roster.  He is now too far down on the depth chart to really have a shot at playing as a Ranger for an extended period of time.  I have a feeling he will ask for a trade, much like Dane Byers did, so that he can get a shot elsewhere.  It’s a shame too. I like the kid, he just has been squeezed out by a combination of talented prospects and talented NHL players.

Update 1pm: The players that need to clear waivers are John Mitchell, Kris Newbury, and Dale Weise.  Newbury and Mitchell are confirmed on waivers, but it’s odd that Weise has not been waived yet.

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Rangers vs. Frolunda Review: Hank Shines, Rangers Sloppy But Win

The Rangers improved to 3-1-1 in the preseason with their win over Frolunda this afternoon.  The game was highlighted by Henrik Lundqvist’s return to his old SEL team, and what an ovation it was.  Henke is loved in Sweden, and is a bit of a national hero there.  The opening ceremony included a standing ovation from the crowd as he stood at center ice.  After the ceremony, there was a game after all, so let’s get to that:

  • Although the Rangers won this game 4-2, they were very sloppy.  They got out shot by a team in a league not known for offense.  They made bad passes, except for a few nice plays, and played horrible defense.  If this game were played against an NHL team, they would have lost.
  • The Rangers spent the first five minutes of the second period on the penalty kill, with the majority of that being down two men. You can’t do that in any game, and they are lucky the SEL isn’t an offensive powerhouse.
  • Michael Del Zotto had a game that is symbolic of the 2011 Boston Red Sox: horrible start (bad turnover), horrible end (bad penalty that led to a powerplay goal), strong middle (good PP work, an assist).  However, he has gotten progressively better with each preseason game, and that is a positive for him.
  • Erik Christensen, despite his pretty goal (off a beautiful pass from Mats Zuccarello), did not have a good game.
  • Mats Zuccarello solidified his spot on the roster. The little hobbit that could had another strong game.  He came to camp in great shape, and it’s showing on the ice.
  • Names I didn’t hear during this game: John Mitchell, Dale Weise, Carl Hagelin, Blake Parlett.  For Parlett, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but he had a bad coverage mishap in the game that led to a quality chance.  Mitchell and Weise, well, we know what we are getting with them.  As for Hagelin, he’s fast, but he can’t be a one trick pony.
  • Names I heard a lot during the game: Tim Erixon, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Bourque.  All three had good games, but Erixon was victimized on bad coverage on a penalty kill that led to a rebound goal in the third period.  Bourque always had the puck, but there was one instance where he just stared at a loose puck for about three seconds. I didn’t get that.
  • Kris Newbury, despite his goal (which was a flubbed shot), proved that he is not going to make this roster either.  Too many forced passes.
  • Sean Avery almost got decapitated this game, taking a high stick to the mouth and not returning.  Pretty sure 90% of the NHL is happy Avery got whacked in the face.
  • Henke had one helluva game.  He was very, very sharp and in midseason form.
  • It’s clear Wojtek Wolski will need to stay on a line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik to be anything close to effective.  He was invisible today.
  • The MSG broadcast said there will be cuts after this game before they head to Slovakia.  So stay tuned.

Preseason Game 5: Rangers at Frolunda

OPPONENT: Frolunda Indians (HC Frounda) of the SEL

NOTABLE NHLers: Christian Backman (ex-Ranger), Joel Lundqvist (The King’s brother)

RANGERS LINEUP:

Forwards: Sean Avery, Brian Boyle, Carl Hagelin, Dale Weise, Ryan Bourque, Kris Newbury, John Mitchell, Wojtek Wolski, Mats Zuccarello, Mike Rupp, Erik Christensen, Brandon Prust

Defense: Brendan Bell, Stu Bickel, Tim Erixon, Michael Del Zotto, Dylan McIlrath, Blake Parlett.

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Scott Stajcer

STATE OF THE BLUESHIRTS: Tonight’s game in Sweden against Frolunda is going to be the Henrik Lundqvist show.  Lundqvist starred with the team before coming to the Rangers, and is a hero in those parts.  He gets to go up against his brother Joel in an arena where he has never walked into the visiting locker room.  He does it with the Rangers “B” squad, as most of the players you will see on opening night are scratched.  I guess they wanted The King to get his work in.

CRAZY THOUGHT:   Del Zotto has a second straight strong game.

OPPONENT’S BLOG: N/A

PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Frolunda 0.  Yes, predicting a shutout in his return.

The game is on at 1pm EST time on MSG.  Don’t have a TV? You can watch the stream here.

Rangers Win and Post Game Thoughts

The Rangers kicked off their European trip with a solid 2-0 victory over Prague. Aided by second period goals from Artem Anisimov and Ruslan Fedotenko, the team was led by the strong play of Martin Biron who played very well in earning a shutout victory. According to beat writer Jim Cerny Biron made several impressive saves throughout.

Given the lack of TV coverage that is the shortest recap you’ll ever likely to see on the site so we’ll just get to some thoughts I have over the game.

  • Artem Anisimov scored the game winner. I have a feeling this won’t be his last of the upcoming season. With so much talent, he started to be more consistent last year. Hopefully, with Brad Richards commanding so much attention Artie will have more freedom to have a big year.
  • I know it’s pre-season but with his goal, did Fedotenko once again prove how nice a pick-up he’s been? All that from a camp try-out. He’s a great depth piece that can be moved up and down the lines and gives 100% every game. Good teams need foot soldiers and that’s exactly what Feds is.
  • Take a bow Marty Biron. Yes, I am biased but health allowing I firmly believe the Rangers have the best 1-2 in the entire league. A perennial Vezina candidate aided by a guy in Biron that could probably still be a solid starter for 10+ teams around the league. Have to love that combo.
  • Erixon and Del Zotto got on the board. Hopefully their assists help raise their games. By all accounts, Del Zotto’s pass in particular was a great play. That’s what he’s capable of.
  • Brutal Schedule! Following the Prague game yesterday the Rangers now do all this, prior to next Friday’s opener: They resume play against Frolunda in Sweden on Friday, Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia on Sunday, and Zug in Switzerland Monday. That’s going to be taxing. 3 more countries in 4 days before going back to Sweden for the opening weekend. Hopefully they get a rest day or two in the next week.
  • I would love to see Scott Stajcer get some time in net. He’s got good talent so don’t let him rot in the stands for the next ten days. Given the schedule, giving Lundqvist and Biron some time out of the pads would be good.
  • A week today is the opening game! I can’t wait to be there. If you’re anything like as excited for the opening weekend as I am, good luck to you.
  • I truly believe we’ll see a strong first weekend from the Rangers. 1-1 would be fine, given all the travel, the injuries on D etc but I have a feeling the Rangers take both games.

Preseason Game 4: Rangers at HC Sparta (Czech)

OPPONENT: HC Sparta of the Czech Republic

NOTABLE NHLers: None, but Tomas Rachunek, Karel’s younger brother, is on this team.

RANGERS LINEUP:

Wojtek Wolski-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Mike Rupp-Erik Christensen-Brandon Prust

Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Tim Erixon, Stu Bickel, and Brendan Bell are the defensemen dressed.

Martin Biron
Henrik Lundqvist

STATE OF THE BLUESHIRTS: The first two rounds of cuts have been made, now the trip around Europe begins.  The weird thing about this lineup: there are no Czechs in it.  Remember when the Rangers were a predominantly Czech team?  It wasn’t that long ago.   Now the closest thing to a Czech is Gaborik, who is Slovakian (they used to be the same country, but split in 1993…who says we don’t teach here?)

CRAZY THOUGHT:   Christensen proves he’s worth his roster spot.

OPPONENT’S BLOG: N/A

PREDICTION: Rangers 4, THIS IS SPARTA 2

This game is not being televised due to the size of the arena. A live chat with Jim Cerny will going on for the game at Blueshirts United.

Two Cut; Sauer/Avery Hurt; Rangers Fall To Flyers

There’s a lot going on for a preseason game.  First, the Rangers fell to the Flyers 5-3 in their final North American preseason game.  The Blueshirts fly to Europe to start their European stand in the Czech Republic, but will do so without their last cuts, and with two injured players.

  • Andreas Thuresson and Andre Deveaux have been cut.  Coach John Tortorella said there would be two more cuts before the trip to Europe, and it’s clear these were the two cuts he had in mind.  These should not be a surprise to anyone, even though they had relatively strong games tonight.
  • Sean Avery was left with a bloody toe after blocking a shot tonight.  He did not return after blocking the shot, but nothing is broken, so he won’t be out long term.
  • Mike Sauer sprained his right shoulder in the first period, and did not return for the rest of the game.  He will be out for at least a week, but he should likely be back for the regular season opener in Sweden.
  • How about Glen Sather guaranteeing a Cup for the Rangers and a World Series for the Yanks?
  • Seeing Jagr in orange is weird.
  • Dale Weise…where have you gone? You got your butt kicked in that fight.  Here’s the video of that:

  • Erik Christensen dazzled on one play, but he disappeared for the rest of the game. Hartford is a nice city though.
  • Kudos to Avery and Stu Bickel, who stood up for Deveaux after he got crushed into the boards by Tom Sesito.  Sesito will be suspended, no doubt.  It’s good to see both of them, particularly Avery, stand up for a teammate destined for the AHL.
  • After that fight, it was funny to see Avery head to the box, only to leave after realizing he didn’t get a penalty.  Force of habit?
  • Wayne Simmonds: Epic fail. Just one game after having a horrendous slur “thrown” upon you, you do the same thing to Avery. Here’s that video:

  • Neither Tim Erixon nor Michael Del Zotto had strong games, but the defense was exhausted following Sauer’s injury and the multiple 5-on-3s they had to kill. No excuse, but they looked bad and tired.

Rangers are headed to Europe tonight. It’s about 5am where they will land at the current moment, so they will land at around noon. Their next preseason game is Thursday against HC Sparta in the Czech Republic.

Preseason Game 3: Rangers at Flyers

OPPONENT: New Jersey Devils

2010-2011 LEADING SCORER: Patrik Elias (21-41-62)

2010-2011 GOALIE: Fatty (2.45 GAA, .900 SV%)

RANGERS LINEUP:

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.

Defense: Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, Mike Sauer, Tim Erixon, Stu Bickel

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Biron

STATE OF THE BLUESHIRTS: Last preseason game before heading to Europe.  John Tortorella announced there will be two additional cuts after this game before the trip, and they will be forwards who are cut.  The Rangers have a bit of a ‘B’ lineup in tonight, while the Flyers appear to be dressing some of their top scorers.

CRAZY THOUGHT:   Zuccarello gets a hat trick.

OPPONENT’S BLOG: Broad Street Hockey

PREDICTION: Flyers 4, Rangers 3

The game is on MSG tonight at 7pm. If it’s on the radio, it will either be on 1050AM or 970AM.

Staal Not Traveling To Europe; Roster For Tomorrow Announced

In some unsurprising but relatively upsetting news, Marc Staal will not be traveling with the team to Europe for the remainder of the preseason and the first two games of the regular season.  Staal, who is still having post-concussion headaches, has been a question mark all month, and leaving him behind is the right thing to do considering his symptoms.  It is not good news that the Rangers will be missing their best defenseman for the first two games of the year, but if it helps him get better, then I am all for it.

Also, the roster for tomorrow’s preseason game against the Flyers has been announced:

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Biron
Defense: Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, Mike Sauer, Tim Erixon, Stu Bickel
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.

While the forward lines seem to be set, there is still plenty of competition for the last defense spot and the spare forward spot.  It’s going to be interesting to see if Del Zotto can improve upon his performance on Friday, where he was infinitely better than he was last Wednesday.  Always showing improvement is a sure way to make the team.

The Rangers are expected to make at least one more cut prior to leaving for Europe.  It is worth noting that Dylan McIlrath, who was not cut on Saturday, is not in the lineup for tomorrow’s game.  However, with Staal not making the trip, it is likely the Rangers will not cut anymore defensemen yet, and the remaining cut will be a forward.

Sean Avery’s Days May Be Numbered

At today’s practice, Jesse Spector noted that Sean Avery was not skating with the first group, but with the second group on a line with Erik Christensen and Dale Weise.  The first group comprised what I can only assume will be the starting lineup on Day One:

Wojtek Wolski-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Mike Rupp-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust

Avery is notably missing from these combinations, which was to be expected.  Naturally, you can assume that Avery will be the 13th forward, and will replace someone who is hurt or struggling.  But as for a regular spot in the lineup, there aren’t many, if any, candidates for Avery to replace.  The only person that Avery really has any business replacing is Zuccarello, and that’s only if he can’t seem to cut it with regular playing time.

While Avery may not find his way to the CT Whale –that seems reserved for Christensen, it seems that his days on Broadway are numbered.