It’s tough to feel strong about the way the Rangers won today because everything looked sloppy. The passing, the forecheck, the defensive and neutral zone coverage, everything just looked…off. With such a big team, and a big talent differential you would have liked to see more from the Rangers tonight, but it took a pretty mediocre performance by Uncle Daddy for the Rangers to squeak this one out.
The top line definitely looked strong though. A goal a piece from Gaborik and Richards, and a fairly decent performance by Wojtek Wolski rounded out a good game by the top line. However it was rather shocking to see such a pedestrian performance by number 24. Ryan Callahan really didn’t do much at all, quite frankly rookie Carl Hagelin outperformed the captain in every facet of the game, killing penalties, forechecking, offensive zone presence…pretty much everything. One has to wonder if the C will effect Ryan Callahans game at all, or if it was simply the preseason and Callahan not taking it too seriously. It could also be that Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky didn’t suit up for this one, because the trio seem to play quite differently when any 1 or 2 are apart from the other(s).
Michael Sauer and Ryan McDonagh both had pretty good games, on the flip side I felt like Tim Erixon had quite a poor game, and was constantly being covered for by a very heady Michael Del Zotto who only had 1 noticeable gaffe tonight. Pavel Valentenko did not show the snarl one would have expected from a kid who has run out of options. Valentenko needs to show more if he’s going to secure a spot. I was very disappointed.
I did want to touch quickly on Marian Gaborik. I have been an ardent supporter of #10, and will continue to be till the day I die. You couldn’t help but see the refocused look in his eye. Gabby was absolutely flying out there tonight, playing in all 3 zones, and showing some terrific chemistry with Brad Richards even though the 2 of them were a little off here and there. One play in particular really caught my attention. Richards slowly schlepped the puck up the ice, and all of a sudden Gaborik just put on the turbo boosters and rushed into the zone, and in a flash the puck was off of Richards stick and juuuuusssttt missed Gabby for what would have been a clear breakaway. It happened so fast you would have to think the 2 of them were either reading each others minds, or had practiced that play quite a bit. This is going to be a fun season watching these two play together.
In the end though, the Rangers won a game they most definitely should have. They won it in regulation, but they did not play well. I guess this means things can only get better from here right?