Game Wrap-upsPreseason

Preseason Game 1 Recap

The Rangers beat the Devils in the first preseason game of the 2010-2011 season, and did so in dramatic fashion, winning 4-3 in overtime. The game itself had the intensity of a regular season game between these two rivals, and with good reason. Both teams had fringe players fighting (literally) for a spot on the roster come October. The physical game included two fights, with Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust each dropping the gloves. Neither fight was conclusive, but Prust landed some heavy rights.

The Rangers opened the scoring with a powerplay goal off some nifty passing. Rookie Derek Stepan collected the puck, skated to the slot, fed Alex Frolov at the blocker-side post, who one-touched a pass to Marian Gaborik at the right post, who buried the puck into the empty net. It was a very pretty goal on the powerplay, which will hopefully be a sign of things to come from the Rangers. The Devils countered five minutes later off a Marc Staal turnover tying the game at one a piece.

After a Frolov goal (unassisted) five minutes into the second period, Ilya Kovalchuk tied the game on a breakaway after a beautiful pass from Zach Parise sprung the winger alone on Martin Biron. Brian Boyle gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead when he picked the puck up off the boards, and beat Martin Brodeur five-hole, on what was a very weak goal. Weak or not, a goal is a goal. Dale Weise collected an assist on the Boyle goal, and the line of Weise-Boyle-Derek Boogaard was surprisingly strong in the game.

Biron played very well for the Rangers tonight, and gave way to Chad Johnson in the third period. Dos-Nueve had a relatively strong game, but unfortunately allowed an extremely weak tying goal to Zach Parise with under two minutes to go in regulation. The game went into overtime, where Marian Gaborik (naturally) won the game with a ridiculous snipe from the slot on the powerplay. The Rangers were on the powerplay because Michael Sauer drew a boarding call, and coach John Tortorella took a risk and played four forwards on the powerplay.

The line of Frolov-Stepan-Gaborik combined for six points in the preseason opener, with Alex Frolov leading the way with a goal and two assists. Marian Gaborik added a goal and an assist, and rookie Derek Stepan added an assist to round out the scoring for the top line. Brian Boyle (goal), Dale Weise (assist) and Dan Girardi (assist) finished out the scoring in the victory.

Derek Stepan had a glorious debut tonight. He brought creativity and energy to a scoring line that thrived. It has been a while since the Rangers have had more than one weapon on offense, and the line of Frolov-Stepan-Gaborik kept the Devils guessing. Stepan is showing a lot of maturity for such a young kid. He is also showing that he may actually be ready to take on the burden of being that top line center. What remains to be seen, of course, is whether Stepan hits the proverbial NCAA wall around 40-50 games into the season.

What surprised a few, but not me, was to see that Mats Zuccarello-Aasen was tossed around and knocked down more often than Petr Prucha. Of course it did not slow him down, but it does go to show that MZA may need a bit of time in the AHL to adjust to the physical nature of the game before he is ready to showcase his skills, which he has in abundance.

On defense, Michael Sauer is showing that he is ready to compete for a spot, which may be bad news for tryouts Alexei Semenov and Garnet Exelby. Sauer did a good job playing a physical game tonight, and also drew the penalty that led to the game winning goal (he also paid for that dearly). Rookie Ryan McDonagh also provided a very physical presence on defense, and the combination of McDonagh and Sauer on defense provided a physicality that the Rangers have not seen in years.

Notably absent from the “notables” were Ruslan Fedotenko and Alexei Semenov. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as sometimes being unnoticed is better than being noticed for poor play, but for two veterans trying to beat out rookies that impressed, it means that they are going to have to either step up their games, or pray for an injury. This is not a knock against either, it’s praise for the rookies instead. The Rangers and Devils face off again on Saturday at the Rock, but first comes the initial round of cuts tomorrow morning.

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10 Comments

  1. Here’s what I noticed;
    Boyle stood out with the most physical play to date; from his first shift taking the body three times and then instigating a fight to the third period making a point to finish his checks on the forecheck on guys like colin white

    Stepan looked good but not exceptional (no better than Dubi, Prospal or Gomez); on the flip side, EC did not impress and was basically invisible playing with Dubi and Zuc. Dubi looked strong carrying the puck through traffic but did not look comfortable to me on the LW; I still think he’s better served at center (which will boost his confidence too and, in turn, lead to better play). Zuc looked small out there and did not show great speed which seems to be what people say he has. He had decent stick handling and vision but some of his passes went nowhere and killed the play and momentum.

    Boogie; I’m not impressed. And if he got a misconduct just for lining up in preseason, it doesn’t bode well for how he will be treated by refs during the season. Personally, I think he’s a liability and not many people in the league will fight anyway him due to his size (maybe shelley and orr). I envision him chasing smaller players around but never actually dropping the gloves most of the year.

    Kennedy on the power play in OT? Suspect. Two busted plays at the point and line change later, then gabby was able to set it up and score from the point.

    Torts disappoints so far changing the lines so quickly (Stepan lasted only half the game on top line and EC replaced him after showing little to nothing). Dubi on the wing is a mistake and then he was moved to center the third line? A lack of consistent leadership from Torts and instilling confidence in his players will lead to a lack of consistency for the team all year.

    1. what?stepan looked great, are you kidding?i know its one preseason game but the line had a great night when they were together.your right on zuccs but its one game well see about him.boogie did his job and if he doesnt have to drop the gloves and keeps guys in line just by being there than thats great.but your way off on stepan hes a definite upgrade from anybody you listed, are you kidding me?.

      1. Dubi would be just fine on that line, in my opinion, in the short term. I think Stepan eventually gets the job either this year or next though.

        That was a sweet little pass to Frolov to set up that first goal though.

        Still not sold on MZA lol.

      2. yeah, i thought stepan looked good but not exceptional. I agree he’s got potential for first line one day but not sure right now.

        As far as that pass, he skated into the slot with all kinds of room to shoot from inbetween the hash marks. I know it resulted in a goal but i think you have to have the killer instinct there and shoot. That pass reminded me of gomez with the opportunity to shoot from point blank range but opting to pass instead.

        If Stepan is sooo great then it shouldn’t be a discussion as to who is first line center.

        Ultimately, I don’t mind Dubi on second line; he just should not be on the wing.

  2. I can’t fault Torts for changing lines so often in the preseason. He’s trying to see who plays well with who. If he continues this in the regular season, it’s an issue, but for now he gets a pass from me.

    1. dave suaer was impressive last nite.looked better than rozi who was terrible by the way.

      1. Rosi tweaked his groin, and he’s generally a slow starter anyway.

        Sauer has always had the skill, it’s just that he’s made of glass.

      1. hey i agree i dont think torts is the guy for this team either.i hate that he juggles lines like a clown in a circus but were stuck with him for now.give him this year and maybe hell stop.(maybe).

        1. in my opinion your just off on some of last nites players but thats just my opinion i watched a replay again today that i dvred and couldnt knock stepan.dubi didnt even stand out last nite.

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