Ahhhh, it’s New York Rangers hockey again! Sorta.
I’m a prospect junkie so this kind of stuff is right up my alley. Great to see MSG finally realize the value of televising this tournament and send out a crew, though the viewing angle is pretty mediocre, you have to be happy to be able to watch these kids play against some of the best prospects the other teams have to offer. And the Rangers really stood out as being the superior team tonight. Not just better, WAY better.
Several players stood out in particular. First and foremost there was Petr Ceresnak who was just downright painful to watch. Slow, immobile, awful decision making. Just not a good looking player there whatsoever. He was directly responsible for both of the Blues goals, and you have to think that if not for him, and Andrew Yogan this would have been an 8-0 massacre. Why Yogan? Because he played a tremendous game tonight, except the dude couldn’t buy a goal to save his life. 3 gimme goals, 1 a short side tap in, one a point blank chance from the low slot with the entire net to shoot at, and 1 a 2 on 1 rush with a perfect pass right on the tape which he shot wide. Youch ‘Drew, you gotta bury those.
On the flip side of things I felt that Blake Parlett really stood out as the Rangers best player tonight. He’s a very surprising players in my eyes because I expected pretty much nothing from him. Frankly he wasn’t even one of the players I was looking to focus on because you figure Hagelin, Thomas, McClogan, McIlrath, Erixon, Miller, St. Croix, Yogan, etc all are much higher on the depth charts. But Parlett looked outstanding out there. Showed tremendous decision making with and without the puck. Jumped into the rush at opportune times and showed outstanding hands and the ability to slow the pace down while still maintaining a firm control of the puck so his teammates can join him. In the defensive zone I would say he was borderline flawless. I believe he was paired with Niemi, and the fact that the Rangers were on the power play seemingly the entire night, of which he got the lions share of the point time, probably helped make him look so damn good out there, but regardless for a so called “no namer” to really catch my eyes like that outta the blue, you have to raise your eyebrows a little. Let’s see how he does tomorrow night.
Tim Erixon also looked outstanding out there. I definitely see the McDonagh comparisons because he plays that same kind of, smooth, simple, game with all aspects being solid. He never seems to sacrifice defense for offense, which I find to be very important in a defenseman, but when the opportunity is there, he seems willing and able to jump in. His defensive partner, Dylan McIlrath also played a good solid defensive game. He didn’t wow me at all with a first pass, or his offensive game or anything (and you have to think the people who say he has a canon of a shot exaggerated that a bit) but he was steady, played a nice physical game, and deftly complemented Erixons game out there.
Getting to the forwards, the players you expected to be good, were. Bourque to me stood out as the Rangers best forward tonight, using his speed, and fearlessness to cause havoc, generate chances, and getting himself a very nice goal. Christian Thomas didn’t get to unleash his devastating shot tonight, but his vision looked outstanding, setting up Yogan for a gimme goal, and moving the puck very well, though he did seem to get caught in other peoples areas on the power play, and pretty much refused to move, causing other players to have to shift to adjust to him, rather than the other way around. Weird, but I guess power play specialists know what they like, and they know what works for them. Carl Hagelin showed a very nice shot with his goal, though I was a little disappointed in some of his decision making. His legendary 2-way play wasn’t really on display tonight, as a few times he turned the puck over with blind passes into areas where nobody is home. That’s not what a defensively responsible player does.
JT Miller however looked like an absolute gem out there. Extremely skilled for such a hard working player, and he looks to be very strong on the boards as well, with some nice legs and excellent vision. Very nice looking player. McClogan and St. Croix weren’t very good, though they are what, 18 years old? That’s hardly surprising.
OK, that’s all for now. Tomorrow’s game won’t be watched till fairly late for me, so I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to do the recap.