Finally, hockey is back. We've waited a long time to see this. The preseason is here. Something about preseason games always gets me excited. Seeing the young kids get a chance to show what they can do, cheap tickets, lots of fighting and hitting, and best of all, it's just hockey! I had September 20 in my mind for the last two weeks, and it finally came. The excitement of being able to watch hockey again was great. I know the game is meaningless, but it's nice to get back in the groove of watching hockey, without the pressure of a regular or post season game. In the preseason, it's more about enjoying the game then really caring who wins. It also offers a chance to see some of the young kids on both teams play. Here's what I thought of each Ranger player that played yesterday.
Obviously he didn't play great. 8 saves on just 11 shots is obviously not good enough, but the preseason is about getting your timing back. The first to goals were unstoppable. Heatley's shot was absolutely perfect, and Rozsival's misplay gave Spezza a breakaway, and that was all you needed to hear. Obviously he would have liked that third one back, but that's what the preseason is about, shaking off the rust.
He played solid. Stopped all 8 shots he faced and made some good saves. Showed good vision and pretty good positioning. I like the fact that he was aggressive, playing bigger then his actual size. But there's only so far you can come out. On a few times, he did come out a little bit farther then you would have liked. It would have been 4-2 if Callahan didn't make a great defensive play to stop what would have been a sure goal when Wiikman was way out of his net. Still, a solid performance. He'll need a full season as an AHL starter before he competes for a backup job, but it's nice to see we've got talent down there
Showed some real solid PKing. Blocked two big shots and was really doing what he normally does. Had trouble handling the puck, as it bounced off his stick a few times, but with some more time in training camp, that should be fixed up as he plays in more game situations. There was some buzzing about him really having to compete for his job. While it wouldn't make sense for a rookie to be the 4th line guy, it's still nice to see that Betts is fighting hard for his spot. When Bois was frustrated after taking a hit, and went after Orr, Betts was the first guy to defend Orr, even if he didn't really need it.
I was pretty disappointed in the way he played. One reason it was even easier to let Hollweg go was because we had Byers (that, and the fact that Hollweg is pretty bad) waiting in the wings, to be the guy that hits a lot, but unlike Hollweg, would actually do it cleaner, and actually contribute more. Instead, he showed that he was pretty much a replica of him. A dirty hit from behind that went unnoticed (but all the timny little hooks and trips on both teams didn't) along with him just going around hitting everyone showed me nothing that great about him. I like the fact that he's ready to get dirty to earn a spot, but he has to do more then that to play here
He played very well. He had a great assist on Dubinsky's short handed goal, and he played solid defensively as well. He was also doing what he normally does, and that was being strong physically, never missing an opportunity to give someone a little bump. To keep his spot in New York, he needs to step up offensively, and do it consistently. Yesterday was hopefully a nice sign of things to come.
I think we would like to see more of him. The line he was on set up Prucha for some good chances, but overall, they didn't do to much. Dawes needs to step it up to spend a full season with the big club, hopefully there is more to come. I think we all hope he can become our second line winger this year, but if he plays like he did yesterday, he won't be.
Michael Del Zotto
I was really excited to see this guy in a preseason game so early. It showed that the coaching staff was confident in him, and we could all see why. It was said that the only thing separating him from Dougty and Bogosian was his defensive zone play. Well, in the defensive zone, he threw a big hit, and also saved a goal by intercepting a pass that was in front, and then clearing it away. On the PP, he showed some good passing, and looked very confident with the puck. Obviously he'll be back in Oshawa with the Generals, but it's nice to see that he's gonna make it hard for them to send him back.
Like usual, he did a lot of the little things. That line didn't play so great overall. Like both of his linemates, he was a -2 for the game and although you could hardly blame the goals on Drury, it's still not a great reflection. He played well, it's always nice to see a guy with the C on his shoulder going out on the PK and doing some dirty work. Overall, you can't go crazy about his game yesterday, but you cna't be to mad either.
Where do I start? He was the best player on the ice that game, on either team. He showed great speed, scored both goals and played a hard nosed game that gave us something to feel good about that game. Trailing 3-0, it was Dubinsky who rallied the team of mostly minor league players to get back in to it, and actually outplay an Ottawa team playing a lot of it's top guys. Dubi showed signs of being our future top center, or at least second line guy. Hopefully, it's also a sign that we will have the secondary scoring that people were so worried about.
He's competing for a 7th Dman spot. He wasn't flashy, but he was OK. He joined the rush at times and looked confident in his game. Didn't grab lots of attention, but that's not always a bad thing. Still, he was not great, and he has not secured a spot anywhere yet.
I loved the grit that he showed. He got into it with Heatley and played a solid defensive game. He was shooting the puck, and looked strong everywhere. Didn't make any real big plays, but he did his job. That's all you can ask of him, as he will be on the third pair this year. A good game for Paul.
I think we were all hoping for a little more out of him. He sort of blended in. Did make so OK plays here and there, but overall, he didn't seem like he was realistically looking for a spot on the team. I would have liked to see him be better on the puck, but he will improve with time. He played pretty good in the call ups he had last year, so hopefully he will improve.
He made the most of his limited ice time. He looked faster and stronger on the puck, and overall just looked more confident in his game. He seemed like a player who could do more then just fight. It was a solid game for him, and hopefully that is a sign of more things to come. I doubt he'll get a lot of playing time this year, but it's nice to see that he's still working hard at becoming a better player, instead of a one dimensional fighter.
The only time he stood out is when he made iffy plays. He didn't play badly, he just didn't jump out at you. Didn't make any real good plays, but didn't make horrible plays either. I expected more out of a guy who's competing for a 7th Dman spot, and who's time being called and a prospect is running out. He looks like an AHLer out there. No problem with that, that's what he is, a minor league guy, I won't expect him to do much more then that.
Just like his line mates, he was a -2. He did look more confident then last year though. He was shooting the puck, and he looked like he was putting the disaster of last year behind him. The whole line needs to improve though.
He made some decent plays, but he more or less just blended it with the crowd. You never though "wow nice play by Rissmiller" but you also never thought "wow this Rissmiller guy is awful." From a defenseman, that's ok, but from a forward, you'd like to see more. He made a few nice passes, but didn't show much that would put him on top for a spot.
He made an awful play that led to the second Ottawa goal. He was pretty iffy with the puck and didn't look like he earned the new contract. He looked a lot like he did last year. He made a great pass to Dubinsky on the first goal, but other then that, he had some pretty spotty play. It's only one preseason game, but Rozy will need to step it up, or Sather will easily find some takers in a trade.
He's desperately hanging on to a job right now. It wouldn't surprise me to see someone take his spot. He didn't play badly, made a few good plays, but overall, you would like to see more. He played well enough to still hold his NHL spot, but not by that much. We will see what happens with him.
He didn't play well paired with Rozsival. Overall, he didn't play THAT bad, but hopefully he finds more chemistry with Rozy, or we could see D pairs shaken up a little bit. Staal needs to make better decisions in order to step up to the next level of play. He's guaranteed a spot with the team, but you'd still like to see more of him in these games.
He showed us a lot of what we wanted from him. Going hard to the net, playing with an edge and mixing it up a little bit. It's great to have a guy who is willing to take some punishment in order to do the dirty work of being around the net. If he keeps that up, it should allow him to net a few goals by accident. He's got some talent, hopefully we'll see more of it soon. If I could knock his game in anyway, it's that I'd like him to stay on his skates more. I know part of the job of being in front means taking abuse, but even away from the net, he seemed to be losing physical battles, and spent a lot of time off his skates instead of on it.
Best player for the Rangers:
Dubinsky, obviously. He carried the offensive load, and did it all. Nothing else to add that I didn't say before.
Worst player for Rangers:
It's between Byers and Rozsival, but Rozy did make the nice pass on the first goal so I'll go with Byers. We all wanted him to show that he wouldn't be the next Hollywood (Dane Fires? Great Dane? I can't think of a nickname right now) and he did exactly the opposite.
Overall, they were the better team. They outplayed a talented team that played a lot of it's starters, and that's a good sign for our prospects. We had almost twice the amount of shots they did, and if it were not for a key mistake or two, we might have won. Our PP looked like it did last year, pretty lackluster, but our PK, which went 10-10 looked very solid, like last year. Overall, a good game, the loss is no big deal, it's the quality of play, and they played a good game. Martin Gerber played great