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Category: Preseason

Three Countries And Four Games In Five Days Don’t Mix

Well, the New York Rangers were bound to lose one of these games, considering the travel and the schedule of the games.  The Rangers began in the Czech Republic, played a game, went to Sweden, played a game, had a day off, then went to Slovakia, played a game, and then finished in Switzerland, and played a game.  That’s a lot of travel and hockey in just four days.  Regardless, the Rangers were absolutely dominated in this game by a very small and very skilled EV Zug team, and wound up losing 8-4.

  • Mats Zuccarello had the best preseason of any Ranger player.  He felt at home on the big ice surface, but he also played well on the NHL surfaces before the trip.
  • Michael Del Zotto had a blown coverage on the seventh Zug goal, but he also has had a strong preseason. He still has some work to do, but he has had a vast improvement thus far.
  • Brendan Bell had a strong first preseason game, but has certainly regressed. He has been exploited by these Euro teams as being slow and flat footed, which he is.
  • Stu Bickel is only here because Mike Sauer and Marc Staal are hurt. He needs work. It was impressive to see him survive the third cuts, but that survival is going to be short lived.
  • Speaking of short lived, Erik Christensen’s remaining days with the Rangers may be short lived.  With cuts looming, Christensen completely blew his assignment on Zug’s fifth goal.  He deserted the front of the net to chase the puck behind the net, which led to a goal that was inevitable.
  • The defense outside of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh is shaky, but when missing your top two defenders, it’s expected. The Rangers were exploited time and time again by a quick Zug team. The remaining four players were either injury replacements (Bell, Bickel), a young defenseman who will have defensive lapses (Del Zotto), or a veteran journeyman (Steve Eminger).  That folks, is the definition of a make-shift defense.
  • Martin Biron wishes he he had a few of those back. He was not strong at all today. However, at least half of the Zug goals were unstoppable.
  • The top duo of Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik clicked again. They are going to generate a lot of offensive chances this year. They looked their best when Brandon Dubinsky (aka Mr. Questionable Facial Hair) was on their line, but you have to figure Wojtek Wolski, who also looked good there, will get the shot once he’s healthy.
  • The top power play unit got torched. That’s what happens when you have four forwards and Del Zotto out there (essentially five forwards).
  • Holy Artem Anisimov! That goal he had was beautiful. When a video becomes available, I’ll post it.
  • Outside of the top duo and Anisimov, there wasn’t really much to praise the Rangers for. It was one of those forgettable games.

Preseason Game 7: Rangers at EV Zug

OPPONENT: EV Zug

NOTABLE NHLers: Jussi Markkanen (former Ranger), Glen Metropolit.

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

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

Martin Biron
Scott Stajcer

STATE OF THE BLUESHIRTS: The Rangers are 4-1-1 this preseason, but have not looked overly impressive while amassing that impressive record.  They were sloppy against Slovan, and have taken entirely too many penalties against teams that are supposed to be inferior opponents.  They would not be 4-1-1 if they played this way against NHL opponents.  With the roster essentially set, it’s time to get their act together and finish the preseason strong.

CRAZY THOUGHT: Bickel scores a goal.

OPPONENT’S BLOG: N/A

PREDICTION: Rangers 4, Zug 1.

The game is on at 2pm on MSG.  There’s also a live stream here.

Rangers Win Again Despite Sloppy First Period; Weise On Waivers

The Rangers weathered the proverbial storm in the first period against HC Slovan, and came out on top of the Slovakian team 4-1 in Bratislava.  Let’s get to the bullet points.

  • Mats Zuccarello had another strong game. He already solidified his roster spot, but he may be a dark horse to wind up on the top line if Wojtek Wolski falters.
  • Stu Bickel looked pretty good, despite his penalty.  I am going to call him Pickle at least once per game this year though.
  • What a play by Brandon Prust on Artem Anisimov’s short handed tally.  Prust knocked down a Slovan behind the net, took the puck, and dished it to Artie in front of the net, who pretty much had ten seconds to bury it.  The goal was Artie’s, but the work was done by Prust.
  • The first powerplay unit of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Michael Del Zotto looked pretty good. Richards had a nice play to get the puck to Zuc for his goal.
  • The second unit had some fancy passing too, and was a pretty nice surprise.  Dan Girardi made a nice pass to Brian Boyle in front of the net for his chip in goal.
  • Despite the win, the Rangers looked very sloppy in the first period.  They were getting out skated, out shot, and out performed in every aspect of the game.  They were lucky to only be down 1-0 after the first.
  • This is the second straight game where the Rangers took way too many penalties against inferior opponents.  That needs to stop.
  • There is one more preseason game in Switzerland before the Rangers open their season in Sweden.
Also, Dale Weise was placed on waivers today, which confirms that he was not on waivers yesterday. It’s still unknown why the Rangers waited a day to waive him. I’ll assume they were trying to trade him, but couldn’t find any takers.

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.