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I DVR’d this game but didn’t watch it live. Really, I didn’t expect much from the Rangers when looking at the lineups on paper. Basically you had the Rangers put out the Hartford Whale-pack and a few regulars (Cally, Anisimov, MDZ, Avery, and Lundqvist), VS almost the entire Devils opening night roster sans Uncle Daddy, Langenbrunner, and a few others. You had to figure this one was going to be ugly, and with the Devils scoring early in the game off of a gorgeous individual play by Ilya Kovalchuk, you had every right to feel so, I know I did. But somehow, some way, the Rangers were able to eke out a 5-4 OTW. I must admit, I was shocked.

Really this game came down to 1 thing. The power play. This is the way the NHL is played nowadays. Play them even at even strength, and win the specialty teams battle. If you can have a strong power play and a strong penalty kill, you will be a lethal team. End of story. All the other crap, the hitting, the defensive schemes, the goaltending, etc, it all goes out the window as long as you can win that specialty team game on a consistent basis. The Rangers showed it tonight, killing of a 5 on 3 for nearly a full 2 minutes after the Devils got one of the most ridiculously lopsided and unfair calls of this very early preseason, while at the same time being lethal on the Power Play to boot.

It’s remarkable how hungry this team seems, and I think it speaks volumes to the quality of kids we have coming up through the system, as well as the foresight that Glen Sather (say what!) had with regards to bringing in a lot of people to battle for some spots. We have already seen that Exelby is clearly not going to make this team, but we also have seen that a guy like Fedetenko may just defy the odds and do it, as he was absolutely outstanding tonight. A guy like Kennedy probably shouldn’t make the team, but a guy like Grachev may just do it.

Speaking of Grachev, I felt he had an up and down game. He set up a few glorious chances, but wasn’t able to do much on an individual basis. His fellow Russian teammate, Artem Anisimov, was absolutely outstanding all night long. AA proves that even if you aren’t scoring goals (which he actually did), you can be an effective player by playing a smart 2-way game. Anisimov will win be a Selke finalist in his career, mark my words.

Ok, that’s all for now. Let’s see how the boys do in Detroit tomorrow night.

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