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I’ve been a little hesitant to even do a post game wrap for this one because the immediate reaction after watching the game against the Caps was to absolutely roast the hell out of this team for their piss poor effort in the first 2 periods when they showed they can clearly not only hang with the Caps, but dominate them for at least a period. Now part of that domination was the Capitals taking their foot off the pedal and trying to run out the clock, but a big part of it was just the Rangers play. They looked sharp, their passes were crisp, they battled up and down the ice, they skated their butts off…in short they did everything they failed to do for the first 40 minutes, which is what makes me (and I assume you) extremely angry, and prone to a long tirade about that fact.

But, let’s also recognize another thing. This was the preseason, the roster is basically set, and this game is quite literally meaningless for just about every player not named Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle or Aaron Voros (I suppose the argument can be made to include Del Zotto in that group, but I think he has made this team as a starter long before todays game). As such I’m going to ignore the negatives and focus on a couple of positives.

First and foremost the play of Evgeny Grachev for the bulk of this preseason. He looks NHL ready right now. For the most part he battles for every second of every shift, getting in hard on the forecheck, playing the boards very well, showing excellent speed, vision, defensive zone responsibility and offensive instincts. However a full season in Hartford will do this kid a ton of good. He needs to get used to the speed of the game and scoring by himself on non rush situations. He’s looked a bit overmatched on set plays with a defender on him. He needs the time to adjust and learn the pro game. But whatever nagging doubts I had about him perhaps not being the star I think he could be, have long since gone. This kid is going to be an absolute monster. I honestly have no idea what the ceiling for this kid is, because he is built like a tank, skates like the wind, and has passing skills to go with his tremendous wrister.

The other positive I have to take out of this game, and really the entire preseason with the exception of his first game, has been the play of Wade Redden. As much as it pains me to say it, Wade has been the best defenseman for our team this entire preseason when you look at all around game. He has a much better grasp on when to pinch and when not to (unlike Gilroy) has been extremely smart with his outlet passes, has been cool, calm, and collected in his own zone. In short he has been a #1 defenseman for us. Not a 6.5 million dollar a year defenseman mind you, but certainly a #1. Which is good because as good as Wade has been, Michal Rozsival has been equally horrible, which, considering they are defensive partners, makes Reddens steady play all the more impressive…and conversely Rozsivals horrendous play all the more frightening.

Season Preview on Wednesday. Opening night on Friday. See you then.

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