From a few rows behind the Rangers bench—not what my ticket said—I was fortunate enough to catch my first live hockey game since Game Four of the second round against Pittsburgh last year.
And boy, was it a good one!
The Rangers really controlled the play against Ottawa for the second game in a row, but with a better result. A 3-2 loss to the Senators was followed up today with a 2-1 victory against those same Sens in the second preseason game of the year.
Just like last game, the Senators' starting goaltender—this time, Alex Auld—played very well and kept the Rangers from getting much.
On the Rangers side, many fans were excited to see Redden, Naslund, and Zherdev in a Rangers jersey for the first time, and they were all treated to a great show.
Here are my thoughts on the individual performances of each player:
In his first appearance of the year, King Henrik did not let anyone down. In the two periods he played, the defense kept his work to a minimum, and he stopped all 12 shots he faced. He made some solid saves, but overall it was an easy game for him.
Nothing to get excited about, but it was a good game to get the rust off for him. We will surely rely upon him to play like that for the whole year.
I was excited to see if this kid actually had something or not. He let in one goal on ten shots, and didn't play that badly.
The goal he let in was a result of Wade Redden getting caught flat-footed, but we'll talk more about that later. Zaba barely had much of a shot on it, but he also made some pretty good saves and looked solid.
He made a few nice plays, but really showed that some more time in the minors would be beneficial. He didn't jump out at anyone that much, but was still solid enough to not stand out for the wrong reasons.
The only way he'd make the team is as a fourth-line center, and he'll need to play a lot better to get that spot. Still, he's got tons of potential, and we should see some improvement with a little bit more time.
He was the Rangers' best player in the first game, and he played just as well tonight. He didn't notch a goal, but played with some serious speed, and also had an assist on the Rangers' second goal.
He played on the wing on the PP at one time and looked pretty good. He got hit pretty hard with his head down—but still, another really good game for Dubi.
Definitely stepped up from his last game. He threw some hits and was noticeable out there—for the right reasons. He joined the rush again, and still looked very confident with the puck, like he really felt he had a shot to make the team.
He played a game similar to what you would expect of Ryan Callahan. He played grittily, he forechecked hard, and gave everything he possibly could on every shift.
He showed a lot of guts out there, which is something that should secure a spot on the big club for him. Zherdev was the marquee guy for us in the trade—but don't underestimate Dan Fritsche.
He played a really good, solid defensive game. He threw some really good hits, and led the team in ice time. He played on a pair with Redden, and overall, they looked pretty good—especially on the power play.
Girardi played like he was in midseason form—but hopefully his midseason form will be even better. Redden, who was at one point a second-overall pick, got the big contract—but look for the undrafted Girardi to be our No. 1 if he keeps playing like this.
The keystone of what many feel will be our top line, Gomez finally looked comfortable being our top center. He looked refreshed to play with guys who played with a similar speed that he does.
He skated through the neutral zone with ease, and looked like the speedy center he is. While he didn't get a point, he played well enough to deserve one. He got two quality shots on goal, and that really showed that he is ready for this season. Go go Gomez!
If you had to pick someone who would become our next Marek Malik—meaning the guy we unmercifully boo even when our coach pleads with us to stop—it would have been fair to pick Dmitri Kalinin. Well if one preseason game is any indication (and it really isn't) and you would probably have been right.
He made some bad mistakes with the puck, and overall just didn't look so good out there. He wasn't setting a great example for Sanguinetti, his defensive partner
The game winner was a deflection from Lauri "Korpedo" Korpikoski—and boy did he earn it. He really stood out, showing guts to go down and block a shot, while also playing well in the offensive zone.
Lauri is really competing for a spot, and if you had to pick one player from Hartford to make it, it would be him. He played like he was really confident in his chances, and didn't stand out for the wrong reasons. Good game, Korpi!
He was really firing the puck tonight. Six shots on goal, and you could tell he showed good chemistry with Gomez and Zherdev. He was skating well enough to keep up with his linemates, and was looking very creative with the puck.
Naslund seems to be enjoying the freedom of a system that allows him to do a little more then Vancouver's let him do. He really stood out, and did so in a really good way. Expect good things from Markus Naslund this year.
The title of this article says it all. The first time he touched the puck there were some boobirds in the stands. Not much later, the chants were "PET-R NED-VED (CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP!)"
His quick wrist shot beat Alex Auld early in the first period, and he showed the quickness that he used to play with when he was younger. He was named the first star, and to see him skate out and throw up a puck was just a nice sight.
He might not have always had the best relationship with the Garden faithful, but he was obviously happy to be back. Nedved at least showed that there is a good reason for him to be invited to camp.
My colleague and Rangers community leader Greg Caggiano said it best—"Give Petr Nedved a chance," while we all yelled that it's embarrassing to even see him there. He proved all the doubters—me included—wrong today with his strong performance. Kudos to Petr.
While it's clear he's been working really hard on his skating, he's still the slow fighter he always was. He picked up a loose puck to get an offensive chance, only to be caught before he could get anything.
Still, a real good effort. Rangers fans love effort, and Orr gave it his all, while also throwing some good hits. Even though his skating and his offensive output is limited—to put it lightly—his hitting has improved, and he's becoming more then just a fighter.
Rangers coach Tom Renney actually put Orr out on the power play, stationing him right in front of the net as he did battle in the war zone at the top of the crease. He didn't do badly. A good game for Colton.
He had an assist on the Nedved goal, and played a solid game. He didn't show anything that would make him a favorite for an NHL spot, but he played a solid game. He has put up big numbers in the AHL, showed that there was skill there.
Is he NHL-ready? Most likely, no. But did he play a good game? Yes, he absolutely did. He as pretty solid with the puck, and never drew any unwanted attention from the fans. A good game for Pierre Alexandre.
For a guy competing for the seventh defensive spot, he played very well. He had some good shots on goal, and was pretty solid defensively. For a seventh defenseman, you want a guy who won't stand out for the wrong reasons, and do his and be solid in his own end.
Pock really gave himself a better chance of cracking the NHL roster this year. He was good in the '06-07 season with us, and hopefully he can get back up here. Good job, Pock.
While the PP was still pretty dry, as it went 0-7, you could still see a major difference when Redden was out there. He did get caught flat-footed once, and let Brad Isbister deke around him to set up Ottawa's only goal—but otherwise, he played a really good game.
We all wanted a defenseman that would actually shoot the puck, and we got it. Wade had six shots on goal, and looked pretty solid. When he was out there on the power play, you could see the whole unit moving as one, and they didn't seem predictable.
Wade played very well in his first game as a Ranger, and I hope to see more of the same—well, except that one play.
Overall, he looked pretty nervous out there. He had some bad giveaways, but don't discount the good plays he made. He threw a good hit and played okay in the offensive zone. He'll obviously will need some time in the AHL, but he showed promise.
This camp is the first one where he carried some real expectations. He had good reason to be nervous, and while we'd like our players to be more calm, it's still nice to see him in the preseason games. In a year, we'll forget about any poor performance, because he will be a top offensive defenseman in the game.
My one knock on Voros' last game was that he was getting knocked around a lot. Well, he definitely improved on that. He was on his skates all day—and was right where he belonged, which is in front of the net.
He got some power-play time, and deserved it. He played the same hard-nosed style that we saw in the first game, and we expect to see more of it later. A good, solid game by Voros.
During the national anthems, he looked like he was so nervous that he might pee his pants. The one offensive chance he had, he left the puck behind him—but other then that, he played a good game.
He threw some good hits, and the new draftee will be in Hartford this year, with some high hopes. A solid game for Dale. Hopefully we will see a bit more of him this camp.
I was really excited to see him play. At first, he didn't look so comfortable. He was handling the puck too much, and losing control. But he found his groove pretty quickly. His line set him up for some good chances, as he had six shots on goal, all of which were pretty good quality. He also had a few good chances go wide.
The kid has a wicked wrist shot—maybe that's why Nedved was invited?—and it was on display today. It was also refreshing to see him make a really good play—backchecking to stop a Sens offensive chance—and to see him forecheck a good amount of time off the clock in the final minute to secure a victory for the Rangers.
A real good game for Zherdev. Hopefully he takes a liking to New York, and hopefully he's spending a lot of time in Brighton Beach—a Russian area of Queens.
The Rangers outshot the Senators again, getting 15 shots in each of the first two periods, and eight shots in the third to lead that category 38-22.
Again, they controlled the play, but they cut down on key mistakes, and played a solid defensive game that we will have to get used to. Tom Renney's goal is to win every game 2-1, and he got that tonight.
There are a lot of options, but I'm going to have to go with the renewed and revived Petr Nedved. It was a nice goal he got, and he really showed why he should be back in the NHL
While nobody played really poorly, the obvious choice would be Kalinin, who seemed to stand out for the wrong reasons. Hoepfully he'll shake it off quickly—that's what preseason is for, isn't it?
Jason Klau is a staff writer for the NHL 2Day's radio show website. To visit the site, click here.