First and foremost, a big old congratulations to Ryan Callahan who was named the captain of the New York Rangers a few minutes ago. Equally congrats to Marc Staal and Brad Richards for getting the A’s…though I am surprised Richards gets one before Dubinsky.
Getting to the game last night, it was a pretty well played game between 2 of the better teams in the tournament. Granted the Rangers ran away with it in the 3rd, but the first 2 periods were hotly contested and actually you could say the Stars outplayed the Rangers for long stretches.
Once again the standouts were pretty much who you would expect, Erixon, Thomas, Bourque, and the kid I’ve been just thrilled at watching, Parlett, who was once again outstanding in all facets of the game. On the flip side though, Dylan McIlrath had a mediocre at best showing last night. Once again having problems with his gap control, and showing very little in the way of offensive ability except for jumping into the play once and not putting the puck home when dished a perfect pass. Don’t get me wrong here, I am NOT one of those McIlrath haters. Far from it, I think he does serve a purpose that the organization needs, however I am not going to be an apologist who just gives him a free pass whenever he messes up. He messed up a few times, and you gotta call a spade a spade. On the other side though, he did have a fight last night, and you can see why they call this guy the undertaker. Holy crap did he ever beat the living shit outta the other guy in the fight. It looked like one of those fights you wanted the refs to break up before it went too far because you knew McIlrath would just kill the other guy. Thankfully, that’s exactly what they did.
I was very impressed by the goaltending in these first 2 games, especially since, when looking at them on paper, you HAVE to figure Jake Allen and Jack Campbell have to be the overwhelming favorites to win their respective matchups, but instead the Rangers ran through them like pudding, and their own backstops held the fort mighty well, especially during the surges that inevitably happen. Though it does help when a Stars player misses the chance to tie the game by shooting a puck wide with quite literally an entire net to shoot at.
Erixon has been particularly impressive with his poise and puck movement. He seems to have mastered the art of looking one way, and putting the puck right on the tape of a player nowhere near the place he’s looking at. I don’t know how the hell he does that, but it’s pretty damn cool to see. Though, for all of you thinking this guy is going to replace Michael Del Zotto, I disagree with that, they bring 2 very different styles of play, in fact, the more I watch Erixon, the more I think we should see pairings with Erixon-Sauer and McDonagh-Del Zotto. Might be the youngest bottom 2 pairings in the NHL, but the talent there is undeniable.