Its really tough to make any assessments after this game. the Rangers were only icing 4 guys who will sure fire have spots on their team this season…Dubi, Girardi, AA, and Lundqvist (for half the game)…starting goalie, 1 defenseman, and 2 2nd line players….hardly a fair matchup against Elias, Parise, Kovalchuk, Volchenkov, Talinder, Clarkson, etc, etc, etc
it seemed like 70% of the Devils that played tonight will be on the opening night roster, whereas only 7 guys MAX tonight will be regulars on the team….thats Avery, MDZ, Erixon, Girardi, Dubi, AA, and Henrik…with EC & Eminger as backup players.
Frankly, if the rangers had as many regulars as the Devils had, we would have likely killed them. They didnt impress me whatsoever, frankly their inability to bury such a substandard opponent was shocking. The Rangers had more players destined for Junior level hockey than guys destined for the NHL in the lineup tonight.
Let’s talk about some of the Rangers forwards briefly. Sean Avery played an outstanding game. Easily the best Ranger all night, he threw the body, skated as fast as anyone on the ice, was a pest with his mouth, drew penalties, worked his ass off, and just plain played like the Sean Avery of old. I loved what I saw. Dubi and AA were solid as you expect, but you could tell they were missing Cally, because Weise is a poor substitute for the captain. JT Miller looks like he could play in the NHL right now on the 4th line, however he definitely needs some work if you want to see him in a top 6 role going forward. Kid has talent. Christian Thomas was disappointing in that, when he didn’t have the puck on his stick, I didnt really notice him out there, but when he did have it, he did some pretty amazing things with it. I think he’s going to need to play on a top position going forward, because a 3rd line role simply would remove him from circumstances that would make him successful.
Carl Hagelin was flying out there, creating a lot of turnovers and playing an outstanding game. As disappointed as I was with his Traverse City Tournament, I was equally happy with his performance tonight. Ryan Bourqe did a few nice things out there in the defensive zone, and penalty killing, but other than that, he didn’t do much, which was frankly disappointing since a younger, slower player in JT Miller really shined out there. EC was terrible, I hardly even realized he was on the ice at times, it wouldn’t shock me at all to see him waived to Hartford come the start of the season.
On the defensive side of things Dan Girardi was outstanding, playing like a true #1, he consistently shut down whatever forward had the unfortunate task of trying to beat him. What a game by the other half of our top pair. Michael Del Zotto looked shaky out there at times, and scared to make a play. He was making safe plays most of the night, which isn’t really his game. He did however jump in on the offense, and you love seeing that from the kid, and recovered when he was caught with the play coming the other way. Tim Erixon looked ok. Calm, cool, collected as usual, but not as obviously good as he looked at Traverse City. He didn’t do much with the puck the way he did in Michigan, but played a pretty decent game. Dylan McIlrath, at times, looked amazing, and at times looked so terribly ordinary. I guess for a 19 year old kid, thats probably what you should expect to see (as opposed to what we saw in TC where he was simply average at best on most nights). He played positionally better than he did in TC, and threw a few nice hits out there. I wish he would have dropped the gloves once though, to get the Rangers crowd into it.
Henrik Lundqvist looked like Henrik Lundqvist, ’nuff said. Cam Talbot though looked outstanding, including several jaw dropping saves. I was fairly shocked at how well he played.
All in all, you’d have to call this game a BIG TIME win for the Rangers. Although technically speaking they lost, you have to be impressed that a lineup filled mostly with kids under the age of 22 hung in there toe to toe with some big time NHL players on the other end. You have to think a lineup with Richards, Gaborik, Callahan, Stepan, Wolski, Boyle, Rupp, Prust, Staal, McDonagh, Sauer, etc would have annihilated the Devils, and that is a very, very good thing.