Rangers Comeback Leads To Overtime Win

The Rangers didn’t have a scheduled overtime tonight so of course they decided to play one. And they ended the game with only two players on the ice – the goal scorer and the goaltender. Sounds normal, right? Minus the fact it was a penalty shot in overtime (an actual penalty shot) not a shootout.

I don’t know how to judge this game. First of all, I was sitting in different seats at MSG (moved to the suits area, which surprisingly didn’t have a lot of suits) which threw me off on judging plays. But my initial reaction? The Rangers are in mid-season form. They severely outshot the opposition and still needed a last minute goal to even force overtime. Basically, typical Rangers.

I want to recap this game because there was almost a full regular roster but it’s preseason and no one should give a play by play recap of a preseason game ever. So I’ll do a quick one and then some other thoughts.

The first period was typical Rangers – had two power plays, took no penalties, outshot the Flyers 16-5 and honestly looked like they controlled most of the period. So of course they were losing 1-0 when the buzzer sounded. Actually the first shot Antti Raanta saw he let in and I immediately thought it was going to be a long night. (I am a big Raanta fan but I’m also aware of how he plays – he’s either lights out or horrible. There really isn’t a middle ground.) Fortunately, he picked it up after that.

Second period was the exact opposite as the Flyers woke up. The Rangers were outshot 12-8, let in another goal (a power play tally that from my seat looked like an atrocious goaltender interference call) and I started to fear another night of not hearing the goal song at MSG. For the record, the penalty was shockingly not on Chris Kreider but Viktor Stalberg, who I’m still not seeing the upside Vigneault does. And as for the call, let’s just say there were a few questionable ones all night. At least they got the one that counted right.

Early in the third period, for some unknown reason to me, Dan Girardi ended up in front of Mason. (Side note: Mason was brilliant in goal tonight and absolutely deserving of 3rd star.) Kreider was on the other side so obviously the goaltender was paying attention to him, leaving Girardi wide open for an easy put home when the puck ended up on his stick. I haven’t seen the replay so I still have no idea why he was there.

Then we had penalties. Lots of penalties. Dan Boyle made a couple of trips to the box. The first time, he lost the puck at his blue line so had no choice but to trip his friend Vincent Lecavalier when he started to go in.

There is one play I want to discuss in detail. I don’t remember which of Boyle’s penalties it was (as he took them back to back) but Dylan McIlrath was penalty killing with Marc Staal during one of them. The puck had gone down to the Flyers zone and the two of them jumped on. There was a Flyer (I didn’t see who) hanging at the blue line behind both defensemen. McIlrath immediately looked in front of him, noticed only four orange jerseys and did a quick check behind him to find the last one. From the second he saw him, you could tell he was watching him while making sure that puck never reached his stick. He knew where he was and he made sure the Flyers couldn’t use him. It was subtle and I may have missed it from my regular seats but it was noticeable. And to see it from McIlrath to me shows how much he’s grown. Vigneault used the word “dependable” to describe his game the past two games. I agree. He’s done what he’s been asked to. Now the question is how do they get him on the roster.

With less than five minutes to go, there was a “collision” at center ice between Derek Stepan and Radko Gudas. I say collision because I missed it. I just saw them hit each other and skate away. I had no idea what happened but saw Stepan flex his arm and leg. Fortunately he was okay. It sounds like Gudas missed on a knee-on-knee collision. I haven’t seen it so I won’t judge but let’s just say if he was trying for that, I won’t be surprised. Chris Kreider saw the hit and decided to hit a Flyer in return. Not sure why he pick Umberger instead of Gudas but he did. Again, haven’t seen replay but pretty sure it was a boarding penalty. Luckily they only called two minutes (although I really expected more because it’s Kreider). The Flyers tried to jump him and a fray developed leading to this beauty of a quote after the game:

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Sometimes? Sure, we’ll go with sometimes.

Anyway, the Rangers killed the power play they got and luckily Kreider wasn’t thrown as he scored the tying goal with a little over a minute to go (and didn’t celebrate cause he’s learned not to celebrate preseason goals). Then in overtime, Keith Yandle was hooked on a breakaway a little over a minute in, received a penalty shot and put a perfect shot over Mason to end it. Honestly, this was the first overtime that looked like it could be exciting so of course it ended in a minute.

That was more of a recap than I intended. Anyway, other quick thoughts:

  • Didn’t mention it earlier, but early in the first period, a puck deflected off I believe the stick of Jesper Fast and into the face of Ryan McDonagh. The captain didn’t look so great as he went right to the bench and shortly afterwards to the locker room. He returned a few minutes later so I’m guessing he just needed a few stitches. Looked like it caught him in the chin/jaw area and fortunately wasn’t more serious.
  • I really do think Dylan McIlrath will be on this roster opening night and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in the lineup as well. I’m just really curious how they plan to make it work.
  • Some interesting scratches tonight. Oscar Lindberg finally got a night off but that’s fine as it’s no secret he has a spot. The others? Raphael DiazKevin KleinTanner Glass and Jayson Megna. That pretty much settles that Megna is here for practice purposes only and won’t actually be making the team. But the other three are intriguing to me because they are all bubble players. You would figure all the bubble guys would play these last two games. Again, really curious what the Rangers are planning.
  • Dan Girardi and Marc Staal will probably need more than the remaining preseason game to gain their timing back. They looked slightly better tonight but they still looked off. And no I don’t think it’s because they’re horrible or overrated or whatever word people are using to explain why they should be traded. They both had ankle surgery and obviously aren’t 100% or didn’t get to 100% until late in the summer so haven’t had their normal training. They will be fine by November. We just might need to give them until then.
  • I’m still holding out hope I will one day notice Emerson Etem in a Rangers jersey. Come on kid, don’t let me down.

Since this has gotten way to long for a preseason game recap, I’ll leave my other thoughts for another day. That said, still a great comeback win the boys should be proud of…even if it really meant nothing.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

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Rangers Trim Roster To 25

The Rangers said there would be big cuts after the game and there were as the team sent eight players to Hartford, cutting the roster to 25. (It was technically nine players as the mysterious Matt Lindblad finally disappeared from the list. Reportedly, he’s injured so I’m not even sure if he ever was in camp, or who he even is.)

As for the other cuts, the following players are headed to the Wolf Pack training camp, which starts today:

Forwards: Luke Adam, Ryan Bourque, and Brian Gibbons

Defense: Mat Bodie, Ryan Graves, Brady Skjei, and Chris Summers

Goaltender: Magnus Hellberg

The one I feel bad for is Mat Bodie. He did enough to earn a spot, there just wasn’t a spot there for him. But if the Rangers need someone during the season, I am sure he’ll be towards the top of the call-up list. I am not surprised Brady Skjei was sent down. Is he close? Yes, he’s closer than I expected him to be from what I heard. But there was no way he was starting the season as the 7th or 8th defenseman in New York. Assuming no major injuries, come January the Rangers will trade a veteran defenseman (probably Kevin Klein) and Skjei will be back. It’s exactly what happened six seasons ago with some guy named Ryan McDonagh.

As for backup goaltender, the spot was always Antti Raanta’s to lose and he did nothing to lose it. But it’s good to know if there is an injury or if Raanta falters, that Magnus Hellberg is more than a capable backup.

So who does that leave in camp?

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Jayson Megna, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Viktor Stalberg, Derek Stepan, Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello

Defenseman: Dan Boyle, Raphael Diaz, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, Marc Staal, Keith Yandle

Goaltenders: Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Raanta

Obviously they are all set in net. They would like to be all set on defense as there are eight defensemen remaining but unfortunately due to cap, they may only be able to keep seven. The assumption is that battle is between Raphael Diaz and Dylan McIlrath. Honestly, to me, they both deserve to stay so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers tried to find a way to keep eight. I’m just not sure they will be able to. And in that case, I won’t begin to guess which one goes.

Up front is where it gets interesting. There are currently 15 forwards remaining in camp. The Rangers have said they will carry 13. (That is partially cap related and partially Vigneault only wanting one extra forward.) I think we can all agree Jayson Megna will be in the last round of cuts. As for the second forward? I haven’t a clue.

Let’s get rid of the guys who definitely are staying – Derick Brassard, Jesper Fast, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and Mats Zuccarello aren’t going anywhere. Kevin Hayes has been invisible but he’s safe too.

In my opinion, Emerson Etem hasn’t earned a spot but he needs waivers to be sent down. As I said in my recap last night, they aren’t going to lose him for nothing so my guess is he gets a long leash and gets to stay.

That leaves five players. Vigneault has liked Viktor Stalberg so I’d be surprised if he’s cut. (I still don’t see what the coach does but I’ve learned to trust him.) I think Jarret Stoll was brought in to be a veteran center and he’s done that so I’d be shocked if he’s cut.

Which leaves us with Tanner GlassOscar Lindberg and Dominic Moore.

You see the problem here. Lindberg needs waivers and has done enough to earn a spot. (Honestly he’s done more than a lot of the forwards remaining in camp.) Moore has been invisible but they won’t just send him to Hartford. Could they trade him? It’s an option, although not sure if it’s one the Rangers want to use at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if teams were interested.

And then there is Glass. Is there a spot for him? That depends on who you ask. There is no one who fills his role but as Vigneault said a few days ago, does speed and skill trump his skill? He’s the easiest guy to remove, minus the two years remaining at a $1.45 million cap hit each year. No one is going to take him with that. But if they put him in Hartford, they have to keep $500k of his cap on the books. That’s better than the full thing but still not ideal.

I really don’t know what the Rangers are going to do and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t at the moment. It’s great to have this depth but you want to keep it and right now, the Rangers need to literally give someone up. Going to be an interesting couple of days…

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Beat Devils In Regulation, Lose Irrelevant OT

For veterans, preseason games are more for them to get their timing than for them to care about stats and scores. That said, I can’t exactly ignore Derek Stepan having a four point night (two goals, two assists), especially when the Rangers only had four goals. Yes, I realize his fourth point was an absolute gift. They all count.

I’m going to attempt a half recap tonight. Rather than completely ignore the game, I’ll talk a little about it.

The first period…happened. It was one of those periods that there really isn’t much to say except there were shots, saves, penalties and no goals.

As for the second period, it was a lot of the same. Only difference was there were a lot of penalties and a few goals, most of which occurred on those power plays. I’m going to blame the penalties (all of which seemed like legit calls to me and were called evenly on both sides) on preseason. As for the goals, Derek Stepan to J.T. Miller to Raphael Diaz seems to be working.

The third period was similar to the second, a couple of goals and a couple of penalties. In case anyone wasn’t sure, Chris Kreider is fast. And what turned out to be the winner, I don’t expect to see an easier goal than that. I would feel bad but it was the Devils and honestly, a really bad miscommunication on their part.

I won’t talk about the stupid irrelevant overtime other than to say I was absolutely shocked that there was more 4-on-3 played than 3-on-3. Get used to that Rangers fans because that is going to be overtime every game it’s needed this season. Oh and thankfully the Devils scored two minutes into it so we didn’t have to waste our time watching the entire thing.

Now onto player evaluations.

I said earlier in the week that Raphael Diaz had to be better. Everyone assumed the seventh D spot was his to lose and he looked like he was trying to lose it. Well he looked much better tonight, and not just the goals. Maybe he needed a game or two to get his legs under him but there was a noticeable difference in how he played tonight.

I’ve been critical which probably hasn’t been fair so I’m just going to say it – Oscar Lindberg will probably be on the opening night roster. I still have no idea how or who gets demoted/traded because of it, but they can’t send him down. That said, tonight was probably his worse game of the four he’s played. (Funny enough, I believe Miller played four straight last year and had the same situation, fourth being his worst. It hurt him as they sent him down because of it. But he didn’t need waivers.) Lindberg took two penalties, first was borderline but second was an easy call, and just wasn’t as noticeable to me. But I still think he somehow has a spot.

This is no secret but I love the line of Derek Stepan centering Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller. That line needs to stay together. Period.

And maybe I’m being blind but I actually have liked the game of Dylan McIlrath. I’m not sure if the Rangers can keep eight defensemen so not 100% positive where he fits but I’ve seen a difference from last year. And his rush in the meaningless overtime had to open more than a few eyes. I would’ve loved to seen him score but just getting down there and then getting back to make the defensive play, he definitely isn’t hurting his chances that’s for sure.

As for other veterans, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal looked like they were playing their first game of the year. I know others will critique them but I’m giving them a pass tonight. If they look that off the remainder of preseason, I’ll be concerned. Dominic Moore was out there but didn’t seem to have a great game either. Because I relooked at the roster, I know Kevin Hayes was in the lineup and actually played over 15 minutes. I never saw him on the ice. Not once. Not good for a guy who was challenged by his coach yesterday.

Speaking of not noticeable, there will come a time when I notice Emerson Etem on the ice as a Ranger. I have no idea when it will happen but I’m still holding out hope it will. I’m pretty sure he needs waivers as well to be sent down so it will be interesting to see what the Rangers do with him. To me, he hasn’t earned a spot in his three games (as he hasn’t been one of the top 12 or 13 forwards) but I’m not sure they are going to risk putting him on waivers as that means they lost Hagelin for nothing.

We may find out soon enough as word is the Rangers will be making a big cut tonight or tomorrow morning to not only get under 30 but get closer to their actual roster. (I assumed they would go down to 28 or 29, but on the broadcast they said they would go to 25 or 26 players remaining.) I won’t try to guess other than to say Lindberg and McIlrath won’t be part of the cut. We’ll find out the rest soon enough.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Cut Five More + Tonight’s Roster

The Rangers had said they were going to cut down to 18 forwards and 9-10 defensemen after their game in Boston. They lied as they only cut five players leaving them with 19 forwards and 12 defensemen (and three goalies). Yesterday, forwards Marek Hrivik and Adam Tambellini, defensemen Brett Bellemore and Tommy Hughes as well as goaltender Jeff Malcolm were sent to Hartford. I was close in my guess who would be included as only name on that list I didn’t have was Hrivik.

Those cuts left 34 players in camp. Vigneault said he would cut to below 30 after tonight’s game in New Jersey. Guessing some of it will depend on how guys playing tonight do but probably not a good sign for a few players not in the lineup tonight.

Speaking of tonight’s lineup, the last two veterans finally make their debuts as Dan Girardi and Marc Staal will be in the lineup. They, along with Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello, took their testing earlier in the week and both said they were ready to go. Hopefully they have as much jump as the latter two did.

The rest of the lineup will be as follows:

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta

Defensemen: Mat Bodie, Raphael Diaz, Dan Girardi, Dylan McIlrath, Marc Staal, Chris Summers

Forwards: Luke Adam, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Jayson Megna, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Viktor Stalberg, Derek Stepan

You will notice there are technically seven centers listed in that lineup. J.T. Miller has played exclusively on wing (and is expected to again as he plays with Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider). So who are the other two who will be on wing tonight? Kevin Hayes and Dominic Moore. Vigneault has said he will try different things and to me these two make a lot of sense. There is a very good chance Moore and Jarret Stoll will end up on the same line. If that happens, only one can play center. Might as well see which one is better at wing.

As for Hayes, many expected him to have the first crack at replacing St. Louis. Fortunately for Miller, Vigneault liked what he saw at the end of last year and in the playoffs so is giving him the first shot. The other thing in Miller’s favor so far? Hayes has been bad this preseason. I’ve touched on it in recaps of both games he played but Vigneault flat out said he needs to be better:

“I’m expecting more from his game so far,” the coach said. “I understand it’s training camp, but Kevin needs to pick up his play a little bit.”

Challenge given. Will it be accepted? We’ll find out tonight.

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Speaking of St. Louis, Vigneault was finally asked yesterday if he planned to replace his A this season or just stick with three. The coach told the media that after speaking with McDonagh at the start of training camp, they don’t think another A is necessary. It’s possible someone comes out and earns that later in the season but for now it looks like they are sticking with just three. I said before camp started that I didn’t know which route they would go and either would make sense. Now my only question is how will the rotation work? Will one guy get a permanent A with the other two rotating or will it be a three way rotation? Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Overtime + Shootout Practice For Rangers In Boston

During the first 10 minutes of this game, I was trying to figure out what I would write tonight as I didn’t think there would be any positives to those wearing the road jerseys. (Other than Henrik Lundqvist who was perfect as always. I’m sure he really appreciated the extra work his teammates gave him right from the first puck drop.) But the Rangers settled in and actually almost made this a hockey game. Almost. It still had preseason written all over it.

Before the game, the Rangers announced four more players had been cut from training camp as Richard Nejezchleb and Travis Oleksuk were sent to Hartford and Jayden Hart and Kirill Kabanov were released from their tryouts. I basically called the Kabanov release after the game Tuesday. He did nothing that night to prove he even deserved a second game nonetheless a contract. Anyway, earlier in the day Vigneault mentioned wanting to get down to six forward lines (18 players) and 9-10 defensemen before the weekend so I expect additional cuts later tonight or first thing in the morning.

On to the game. Well, compared to the first two games, at least it was an actual hockey game. Doesn’t mean it was a good hockey game. But it was better than what we witnessed earlier in the week. And because three guaranteed overtimes weren’t enough, we threw in a fourth for good measure plus a six-round shootout! For the record, I hope at some point this season I see this “exciting 3-on-3 hockey” I keep hearing about. Two games and so far the only excitement in overtime has been 4-on-3, which we’ve seen more of (and I expect to continue to see more of).

Anyway, again not recapping a preseason game play by play. So who stood out?

If I didn’t know better, I would think Rick NashDerick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello were playing a game in the middle of January. They looked like they didn’t miss a beat. I can’t imagine Vigneault was thinking of breaking up that line but after tonight’s performance, I guarantee he isn’t. And it was so good to see Zuccarello back. Here’s to hoping after the game he felt as good as he looked.

I mentioned it before but I’ll mention it again – the King has returned. Henrik Lundqvist looked great in his first start of the season and was put to the test right from the opening draw. He let in one goal in 40 minutes while stopping 21 of 22 shots. So basically, he is in mid-season form. Now let’s hope he doesn’t revert to October-form when it counts.

And now I’m going to talk about everyone’s favorite player – Tanner Glass. Look, he is what he is. I don’t think he’s as bad as everyone thinks but he isn’t being put on the ice for his offensive abilities either. Tonight, he did his job. Everyone’s favorite clown Zac Rinaldo was running around like he always does (in the third period of a 3-2 game which had to excite Julien to no end). He continued to run the Rangers skilled guys so Glass jumped on and challenged him. Of course, he walked away and then ran another Ranger player.

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So what did Glass do? Jump him. I can care less that the referees somehow only called a 2-minute roughing penalty on Glass on the play. You don’t let an idiot like that get away with the stuff he does, especially in a preseason game. My only issue with Glass? He had a helmet-less Rinaldo in a head lock with his head near the ice. I don’t wish injuries on guys but I also don’t think I have to say what he should’ve done. Anyway, I had no problem with what he did and my guess is the coaching staff won’t either.

Who else looked good? Kevin Hayes looked like he remembered what a puck was which was nice. Probably had something to do with being in Boston and against his brother. (I think “Hayes are brothers” has reached “Staals are brothers” territory.) Oscar Lindberg had another solid game, as did Jarret Stoll. I still didn’t notice Emerson Etem but I’m guessing he survives these cuts.

One who probably won’t? Brett Bellemore. He had a rough game and with Vigneault wanting to cut to 9-10 defensemen, I’d be surprised if he puts on a Rangers jersey again. So did Tommy Hughes but pretty sure even he knows he’s in the next round of cuts. The other four defensemen tonight (Ryan McDonagh, Dan BoyleKeith Yandle and Brady Skjei) were solid. I still think Skjei starts in Hartford (and these quotes don’t change that thinking) but he will definitely survive this round of cuts.

So let’s take a guess at the cuts. Vigneault wants 18 forwards, 9-10 defensemen and I’m guessing 3 goalies. Here’s my guess at who will be remaining 24 hours from now:

Forwards: Luke Adam, Ryan Bourque, Derick Brassard, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast, Brian Gibbons, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Marek Hrivik, Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Viktor Stalberg, Derek Stepan, Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Mat Bodie, Dan Boyle, Raphael Diaz, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei, Marc Staal, Keith Yandle

Goaltenders: Magnus Hellberg, Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Raanta

I feel pretty confident these will be the guys in practice tomorrow minus one thing – in looking at the guys left before the cut, I realized I forgot about Chris Summers. So Vigneault may leave 11 (for an extra veteran to put in lineup) or there may be a surprise cut.

Anyway, we’ll confirm the cuts once they are released. Three more games and I’ll actually have to write a real recap…

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Make First Cuts + Roster Vs Boston

As expected, the Rangers made their first cuts today and there were absolutely no surprises on this list as 19 players (basically group C) were sent to either Hartford or their Junior teams:

Forwards to Hartford: Chris McCarthy, Chad Nehring, Josh Nicholls, Michael St. Croix, and Nick Tarnasky

Forwards to Juniors: Ryan Gropp, Keegan Iverson, and Brad Morrison

Defensemen to Hartford: Calle Andersson, Kodie Curran, Troy Donnay, Samuel Noreau, and Petr Zamorsky

Defensemen to Juniors: Ryan Mantha, and Sergey Zborovskiy

Goalies to Hartford (both are rehabbing injuries): Cedrick Desjardins and Mackenzie Skapski

Goalie to Juniors: Brandon Halverson

Goalie released from tryout: Jacob Smith

Again, none of these guys were going to see game action during the preseason so no surprises in these cuts. There probably won’t be many surprises in the next round of cuts unless the Rangers choose to make a really big one. It’s after that where it might get interesting.

The remaining players had the day off before 20 of them head to Boston tomorrow for preseason game #3. Speaking of which, definitely a few more familiar names in tomorrow’s roster:

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Bourque, Emerson Etem, Brian Gibbons, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Marek Hrivik, Oscar Lindberg, Rick Nash, Jarret Stoll, Adam Tambellini, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Brett Bellemore, Dan Boyle, Tommy Hughes, Ryan McDonagh, Brady Skjei, Keith Yandle

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Jeff Malcolm

My guess is Lundqvist will play the entire game. I’m not surprised to see Brassard and Nash on that list. I am surprised to see their linemate getting into a game so early. I didn’t expect to see him until next week. Also not surprised to Lindberg playing again. He will probably play almost every game as the Rangers decide what they want to do with him. My guess is they are at the same point I am – he’s probably ready for the NHL but where on the roster do they put him?

On defense, it’s good to see Boyle back from whatever personal issue kept him away from the team the first two games. Hopefully his return means everything is okay. And it’s good to see the captain playing, although again not really surprising. I would expect the other two who haven’t played to make their debut in New Jersey on Saturday.

Bring on the Bruins! (Or whoever is making up the Bruins tomorrow night in Boston…)

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Thoughts As Rangers Drop Second Preseason Game

I thought sitting through three periods of early preseason hockey live was torture. Watching three periods of early preseason hockey on TV is worse. There is no way I’m recapping tonight’s loss to the Flyers so again, some observations about those who played.

Actually, first a quick thought on 3-on-3 overtime since the Rangers were forced to play one of those tonight. If you feel the need to test it out, fine. But when one team takes a penalty two minutes into the irrelevant period and you proceed to play the remainder of the overtime at either 4-on-3 or 4-on-4 (both of which both teams are extremely familiar with), I’m really not sure I see the point. I get that you can’t not call penalties but that made this stupidity even stupider.

Now onto the players.

I’m going to start with J.T. Miller. You could tell from his first shift that he had a lot more confidence this year than in years’ past. He had one moment that as I believe Dave Maloney mentioned made you shake your head but otherwise I thought he looked good to me. It was almost as if he sees that open spot in the top six and is determined to make it his. Joe Micheletti mentioned in speaking to him earlier in the day, Miller admitted it’s all in his head. I believe that. Hopefully he can get out of his own way. He also has to stop making those brainless cross-ice passes.

And we have to discuss Oscar Lindberg. I just don’t know what to think with him. Again, he had a solid night where he was more noticeable to me than in game one (although I’m not sure if it was because I was watching on TV this time). In my predictions, I had him not making the team. I did forget to take in consideration that he needs waivers. It’s a big part so maybe he does stick, at least to start. I’m not as confident as everyone else that he’ll be claimed but there is definitely a possibility. I just don’t know what role the Rangers want him to play. And not knowing that is making it extremely difficult for me to judge him. That said, he definitely hasn’t hurt his case these first two games.

Another who hasn’t hurt his case? Dylan McIlrath. Granted when comparing him to some of the other defenseman tonight, which I’ll get to shortly, it wasn’t difficult to look good. But he was solid. I again didn’t see any obvious mistakes. He seems to like to pinch a lot which has caught me off guard but I’m wondering if the team has told him to do that. But honestly, to me he looks like a solid defenseman. There is nothing fancy or flashy about his game. And the thing is, that’s what the Rangers want to see from him. I think they somehow find a spot. And if that happens, it will be up to him to keep it.

Then you have McIlrath’s defense partner from Hartford last year, Mat Bodie. I don’t think there is any way Bodie earns a spot out of camp. That said, you can easily see why those two worked as a pair – they were the McDonagh and Girardi of Hartford. Bodie is smooth skating with a great shot, one which found the back of the net twice tonight. I don’t believe he needs waivers so he will be back in Hartford but it’s clear why they kept him this summer. And depending on how the season goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he returned at some point.

Others who stood out in a positive way? Kevin Klein looked much better than he did last night. Maybe it was the difference between watching live vs. watching on TV or maybe he just needed one game to get back into it but it was night and day to me. Jarret Stoll is very good at defensive zone face-offs. If he could teach a certain now highly paid center how to win one, he will have earned every penny the Rangers are giving him. But either way, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make team. (Oh, and he had other A tonight.)

Now onto the not as good.

Kevin Hayes looked like he was playing his first preseason game. He was, so I’ll let it slide. He was horrible in preseason last year as well so maybe he just needs a few games to get going. I still have seen nothing from Viktor Stalberg that tells me he will be anything more than a 13th forward in New York or top line winger in Hartford but we’ll see how the team feels. I was hoping to see more from Emerson Etem but other than a huge hit in I believe the second period, I didn’t see much. He had a couple of clear turnovers (at least one of which led to a goal) and looked…in preseason form. The problem is I think he’s fighting for a spot so not sure he helped his case tonight.

But there’s not helping your case and straight out hurting it, which is what Raphael Diaz did. Maybe he wasn’t ready to be playing a back-to-back so early but three penalties, all of which were actual penalties, is never a good thing. Honestly, he didn’t look good at all tonight. I thought for sure the seventh D spot was his to lose. He might find a way to lose it.

Then there is Kirill Kabanov who managed to take the dumbest penalty of the night. A Flyer player beat him so he stuck his stick out and slashed him in the mid-section. Then couldn’t understand why the Flyers were annoyed. He’s honestly lucky the Flyers are trying to impress a new coach and not be the broadstreet bullies they were until very recently. Even five years ago, he would’ve gotten killed for that play. While he played after that, it was the last time I noticed him. The play was a little over halfway through the first period. It will be interesting to see how his PTO plays out.

And since we’re talking about bad, the Rangers have allowed 6 power play goals on 11 penalties. It’s preseason and most of the guys killing penalties these two games will never be doing it during a regular season game but those numbers aren’t good. (No, I’m not concerned. I just didn’t know a team could manage to be that bad on the penalty kill without trying to be.)

The first cuts are scheduled to be made tomorrow before the Rangers head to Boston for preseason game #3. Word is Henrik Lundqvist will make his first appearance of the preseason Thursday night. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of the others who haven’t played yet. My guess is Ryan McDonaghDan GirardiRick Nash and Derick Brassard all head to Boston. The other two probably won’t play until next week. (Oh and one reason Brassard might not have played today? It was his birthday. Might as well give him the day off if you can. Happy birthday Brass!)

Four more games and then the fun really begins!

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)