Kreider is getting his chance on the top line (Image: Boston Herald)
The preseason starts tonight, with the Rangers in Newark to face those pesky Devils. Even though this is preseason, the general mood of the fan base is that of excitement. There is a lot of hype for this year’s club, as they should be contending for a Cup this season. Today is all about the prospects, as only eight regulars from last year are in tonight’s lineup. Keep an eye on Ryan Bourque, Marek Hrivik, Danny Kristo, and Dylan McIlrath (if he plays) tonight.
The Devils use two separate forechecking systems. In the early going the Devils play a 2-1-2 forecheck, but once the Devils get a lead, they switch forechecking strategies to a 1-2-2 hybrid trap. In the defensive zone, the Devils play a shot-blocking collapsing box style. The Devils allow their wingers to have the freedom to attack the point if the matchup is right (i.e.: When a slow-footed defenseman is out on the ice). On special teams, the Devils play your standard umbrella powerplay. On the penalty kill, the Devs play a rotation between a box and a diamond, depending on puck location and the setup of the opposition.
Rangers Lineup (per Pat Leonard):
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via Blueshirts United
With the first round of cuts made, the attention now turns to trimming the roster down even further from those who will either serve as AHL call ups or rookies who might get their first cuppas this season. With news that Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin might miss the season opener, the Rangers are going to be looking for two extra forwards to break camp. There is a chance that these forwards might be Arron Asham and Darroll Powe, but there is also a chance that the coaching staff will want to take a longer look at some of the kids who impress at camp.
1. Oscar Lindberg
Lindberg is one prospect who we have talked about extensively at this blog since the Rangers acquired him from Phoenix for Ethan Werek. Lindberg was top-ten in the SHL in scoring last season. Upon arrival in the US, he promptly dismantled the competition at the Traverse City Tournament scoring five goals and seven points in the four game tournament. Lindberg has already had a strong camp, which just adds to the intrigue for the young Swede. Throw in his ability to win face offs and his play without the puck (the SHL is a notoriously defensive league), and he is someone who could force his way on to the roster.
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Following today’s cuts, the Rangers have announced the roster for tomorrow’s preseason kickoff against the Devils (per Katie Strang).
Forwards: Arron Asham, Brian Boyle, Ryan Bourque, Marek Hrivik, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, Brandon Mashinter, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Shawn O’Donnell, Darroll Powe, Brad Richards
Defense: Marc Staal, John Moore, Justin Falk, Aaron Johnson, Michael Del Zotto, Stu Bickel (if Bickel isn’t healthy, then Dylan McIlrath will play)
Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot
My guess is that Kreider, Nash, and Richards will skate on a line together, since they skated together during today’s scrimmage. Same goes for Staal and Del Zotto. The other players are likely playing to earn more training camp time. Keep an eye on Bourque, Hrivik, and McIlrath (if he plays).
As expected, the Rangers made their first cuts after today’s scrimmage. The cuts were all players that did not partake in the intra-squad game. Generally speaking, the first round of cuts is usually CHL players bound for Juniors anyway, and AHL players that likely just didn’t make the cut during camp this year.
Those that were reassigned to their respective Juniors teams:
Forwards: Anthony Duclair (Quebec, QMJHL), Klarc Wilson (Prince George, WHL)
Defense: Troy Donnay (Erie, OHL), Ben Fanelli (Kitchener, OHL), Ryan Graves (Charlottetown, QMJHL), and Jimmy Oligny (Rimouski, QMJHL)
Those assigned to the AHL:
Forwards: J.T. Barnett, Kyle Jean, Jason Wilson
Defense: Charlie Dodero, Samuel Noreau
Goalies: Jeff Malcolm, Jason Missiaen, Scott Stajcer
The surprising cut out of these is Kyle Jean. I thought he was going to get a bit of a longer look. The next round of cuts will likely be after the second preseason game, when the Rangers have 5 days to travel out west.
With the first preseason game coming up tomorrow, the Rangers are having a full team scrimmage today. Per Pat Leonard, the lines for each team are the following:
Team A forwards: Pouliot-Brassard-Zucc, Pyatt-Lindberg-Fast, Haley-Moore-Dorsett, Mashinter-St. Croix-Nicholls
Team A d-men and goalies: McDonagh-Girardi, Moore-Stralman, Allen-Hughes, B. Nash … Goalies Biron, Hedberg
Team B forwards: Kreider-Richards-Nash, Hrivik-Boyle-Kristo, Bourque-Powe-Asham, Yogan-Kantor-O’Donnell
Team B d-men and goalies: Staal-DZ, Johnson-Pyvret, Falk-McIlrath … Lundqvist and Talbot in net
The Pouliot-Brassard-Zuccarello line on Team A could be the Rangers third line this season, so that is one to watch Also, it is interesting to see both Fast and Lindberg on a line together, wonder if Pyatt will be able to keep pace. On Team B, the Kreider-Richards-Nash line could be the top line this season. Seeing Boyle between Hrivik and Kristo is intriguing.
Don’t forget, this is being televised on MSG. Go watch.
Biron is at the center of an unexpected goalie competition.
When August turned to September, the one position that had zero uncertainty was goaltender. Henrik Lundqvist is the starter, and Martin Biron was supposed to be the backup. A wrench was thrown into that plan when Biron missed the first two days of camp with a personal issue, and the Rangers invited former Devil Johan Hedberg to camp on a professional tryout. Now, all signs point to a goaltender competition, as Biron will need to outplay Hedberg to win his spot as the backup.
It was a rather curious move, bringing in Hedberg when Biron wasn’t expected to miss much time. Biron has been one of the most consistent backups in the league since joining the Rangers three years ago. Biron played well in his first two-year contract (signed in 2010), earning himself another two-year deal that expires after this season. Marty has been consistently solid in net, and remains one of the best backups in the league. Of course, he does carry a $1.3 million cap hit, pretty high for a backup.
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Per Katie Strang, JT Miller will not be skating over the next two games, and will not be participating in the Rangers first two preseason games against the Devils and Flyers next week. Miller limped off the ice on Thursday with an apparent hamstring injury, but skated the following day. Keeping him off the ice is likely just precautionary, as the team likely doesn’t want to push the kid this early into camp.
As expected, Derek Stepan was not in camp as he awaits a new contract.
Per Andrew Gross, day three of training camp (day two of on-ice activities) was divided into three groups, with each group comprised of a mix of kids and vets. The day was spent doing drills. The line combinations used during camp saw kids skating on lines with vets, a good way to help build confidence and measure them against current NHL standards. Also per Gross, the lines for the first group were as follows:
Michael St. Croix-Brad Richards-Mats Zuccarello
Benoit Pouilot-Derick Brassard-Josh Nicholls
Ryan Bourque-Dominic Moore-Shawn O’Donnell
Anthony Duclair-Andrew Yogan-Derek Dorsett
Per Leslie Treff, Conor Allen (defenseman) was skating in a group with the Brassard line, and looked very good skating alongside Brassard and Nicholls. She specifically pointed out that Allen’s instincts were solid. She also noted that Dylan McIlrath looked good on the ice following his bad knee injury last season. I’d expect him to get a long look at camp, this is an important year for him.
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The 2013 officially Rangers hit the ice for the first time this season, finishing the first day of on-ice activities of training camp. It appears that most of the work was conditioning related. Some notes, courtesy of Leslie Treff:
- Of the new comers, Anthony Duclair, Oscar Lindberg, Justin Falk, and John Moore were all impressive during the sprints. All showed balance, speed, and a good stride. Apparently Mats Zuccarello beat out Chris Kreider in a sprint as well.
- The team seemed to be very impressed with Lindberg.
- JT Miller limped off the ice with an apparent hamstring injury. He should be back tomorrow.
- Martin Biron was not at camp today, but is expected back tomorrow.
- Goaltender Scott Stajcer was not on the ice due to offseason hip surgery. This is the second hip surgery.
- Derek Stepan was obviously absent as he awaits a new contract.
The Rangers have (finally) released the 66-man training camp roster. Although there is no online version, Rick Carpiniello tweeted two pictures of the roster (here and here)
Forwards: Arron Asham, JT Barnett, Ryan Bourque, Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, Taylor Burke, Ryan Callahan, Derek Dorsett, Anthony Duclair, Jesper Fast, Josh Graves, Carl Hagelin, Michael Haley, Marek Hrivik, Kyle Jean, Michael Kantor, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, Brandon Mashinter, JT Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Josh Nicholls, Benoit Pouliot, Shawn O’Donnell, Darroll Powe, Taylor Pyatt, Brad Richards, Thomas Spelling, Michael St. Croix, Derek Stepan, Dyson Stevenson, Peter Trainor, Jason Wilson, Klarc Wilson, Andrew Yogan, Mats Zuccarello
Defensemen: Conor Allen, Stu Bickel, Michael Del Zotto, Charlie Dodero, Troy Donnay, Justin Falk, Ben Fanelli, Dan Girardi, Ryan Graves, Tommy Hughes, Aaron Johnson, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, Joon Moore, Brendon Nash, Samuel Noreau, Jimmy Oligny, Marc Staal, Anton Stralman, Danny Syvret
Goalie: Martin Biron, Johan Hedberg, Henrik Lundqvist, Jeff Malcolm, Jason Missiaen, Mackenzie Skapski, Scott Stajcer, Cam Talbot
The NHL roster will likely consist of 12-14 forwards, 6-7 defensemen, and 2 goalies, so naturally we will see a lot of movement over the next few days. The first move will be sending kids back to the Canadian Junior teams, which should occur before the first preseason game on Monday.