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For the first preseason game of the year, the Rangers, sporting by and large 3rd and 4th liners in the NHL, and people who have never played in the NHL in their lives, held up fairly strongly. They did so against a nearly complete Ottawa team who were playing without notables Volchenkov as well as captain Alfredsson. Truth be told, outside of a miserable first period, in which Stephen Valiquette looked like he was still playing golf, the Rangers pretty much owned the play. Several players looked quite good, while several players left a lot to be desired. The latter includes Moore, Rissmiller, Fahey, Sjostrom, Rozsival and Colton Orr. I felt Byers, Prucha, Drury, Dawes and Voros all played good to very good games. The real stand outs were Michael Del Zotto, who didn’t look that out of place (and yes, this is the same pick I have been killing since the day we made it), Marc Staal (who was steady as ever, while showing some willingness to play the offensive game), Ryan Callahan (who threw his body around liberally and was in the middle of every play, and all over the puck on either side of the rink), Mika Wiikman (who pitched a shutout after coming in for Vally), and by far and away Brandon Dubinsky.

There was no player on the ice, for either team, who was more impressive than Dubinsky. Not Heatley, not Spezza, not the 7+ million dollar Drury. Nobody. Brandon was all over the place, throwing hits, going end to end, playing solid defense, being active on each and every shift. He was the entire Rangers offense, scoring both goals, nearly netting 1 more, and nearly set up Dawes for the game tying goal with about 2 minutes to go in the game. The one negative might have been Dubinsky trying to do too much at times out there. A few times he attempted to go through several players only to turn the puck over, or receive a big hit. He needs to be careful about that, and uses his linemates a little more. Those are things that come with time though, and this kid has a LONG career in front of him playing for the Rangers.

The flip side of the coin though was the power play, which was absolutely horrendous. The Rangers had a minimum of 9 power play chances, and only scored the 1 goal where Dubinsky basically single handedly willed the power play to a goal by splitting 2 defenseman and wristing a laser over Gerber on the stick side. The power play looked absolutely inept, often times never even gaining entry into the zone, with turnovers in the neutral zone, and in their own zone as well. One would think though, the team missing their 5 best players, including likely their entire first power play unit sans Rozsival, would be the difference. We shall see on Monday.

One thing is glaringly obvious though after watching tonights game. Brandon Dubinsky has no place on the 3rd line for this team. He is far too good to be playing 15-17 minutes a night, he needs to be out there 20-23 minutes each and every game. Personally I would be interested in seeing a setup like this:

Drury – Gomez – Dawes
Naslund – Dubinsky – Zherdev
Fritsche – Korpikoski – Callahan
Sjostrom – Betts – Voros/Orr

Yes, I know Petr Prucha is nowhere to be seen on this lineup. Unfortunately another thing became kind of clear to me as well, we have far too many midgets on this team. Prucha is the odd man out because of his contract, and penchant for being demolished once a game. I stand firmly though that we need to get EQUAL value for him if we are going to trade him.

Not bad for a first game though. The Rangers will be paper thin next game as well outside of their first line, but it should be an interesting game nevertheless.

I will try to do my Season Preview – Part 4 writeup sometime tomorrow after my game, probably around 2 or 3 am.

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