After having a full 24+ hours to digest the Cherepanov situation, I still find myself quite disheartened by the situation. And yet life must go on and we must continue rooting for our team. As such I decided to go ahead and put this up finally. In their most impressive victory of the season, the Rangers played a superb New Jersey Devils team and still managed to continue their thus far perfect season. Part of this is directly attributable to what I was pointing to be the Devils potential achilles heal this year…Uncle Daddy. Yet again against the Rangers Uncle Daddy gave up an extremely soft goal on a flutter shot that was going wide. Dubinsky got what is likely to be his easiest goal of the season when he fired a shot that was immediately tipped and started to flutter well wide of the goal. Uncle Daddy tried to play the puck, and instead redirected it into his own net. Doh!
But that was not the end of the second lines dominance this evening. Once again the Rangers second line lead the way with a superb performance from all 3 players. Zherdev picked himself up an assist, and ripped a shot just wide and overpassed one time too many on a 2 on 1 (meaning hes getting his chances, they are going to start going in the net, trust me on that), and Dubinsky had a 3 point game netting the weak goal, and getting 2 assists on the evening. But the real story lies with Aaron Voros, a guy whom I absolutely killed this preseason. Well, thus far Voros is making me look exactly like what he is sticking in Uncle Daddys face in that picture above. An ass. But hey, I much prefer being wrong this way, than being wrong the other (ie predicting a players greatness only for him to fall flat on his face). Thus far Aaron Voros has helped solidify one of the best lines in the league during the infancy of this season by providing size, and a crease crashing presence to assist in his two very skilled and active linemates. This trios dominance has certainly helped us more or less gloss over the fact that the first line of Gomez Drury and Naslund have looked out and out putrid since coming back from Europe. I’m not sure what exactly happened to these 3, but during the euro trip they looked like world beaters, and right now they look about as effective as our 4th line…which is funny considering the 4th line has the same amount of goals (2) as the first line. The problem seems to be Gomez to me. It seems like his linemates are trying to set him up a little more than the other way around. Naslund again seems scared to shoot the puck, and Drury isn’t burying his chances, and both of them are looking to pass to Gomez and make him take the shot. On this team there is only 1 person I trust less to score a goal than Scotty Gomez, and that is Colton Orr. Gomez needs to play to his strength, and his linemates need to start being more selfish. The entire point of putting 2 shooters with a passer is for the passer to pass, and the shooters to shoot, not to have the 3 of them play this game bass ackwards.
Finally Henrik Lundqvist continues his dominating start to this season, completely laying waste to the concerns we had before the season started on the condition of his knees. Henrik hasn’t just been brilliant, he has been a brick wall. His team around him hasn’t always played as responsible as they should, and Henrik is being forced to make some pretty difficult saves on a consistent basis. Right now he is bailing out his teammates, but they better clamp down in their own end, they have way too many long stretches where they forget the word defense altogether.
All in all this season looks almost identical to the start we had last season with one massive difference. Pucks are going in the net. Last season we played well enough to start the season 10-2, but were flailing about at the bottom of the league. The Rangers have gotten themselves off to a strong start which will help a ton when they have a terrible week or two, which they always have, and have it be an equalizer to this start, rather than a hole they have to dig themselves out of.
See you tomorrow against the Sabres.