- These will be my final thoughts of the pre-season because I'm going on vacation out of the country from Friday until the following Saturday and won't be around to see the final two games against Ottawa. I was at the game last night at the Garden, my first game of the season, so excuse me if I missed something that was discussed during the Rangers broadcast on MSG.
- Before I discuss the game, here's a good read talking about Redden's first day in Hartford yesterday. While on the topic of Hartford, Mats Zuccarello had a goal and an assist in his AHL pre-season debut.
- Back to the game, it's hard not to be happy about winning a game, especially when you beat the Red Wings 5-1. However, I must point out that Detroit had only half their regular team playing. They were without Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Lidstrom. They did however have their number one goalie between the pipes (Jimmy Howard), he happened to see the little red light behind him go on a lot.
- Yesterday I took a look at who the players remaining in camp were and who were likely to be cut today. I said that I believed that Sauer would be sent to Hartford, not because he hadn't played well but because I felt that others had played better and that the Rangers would likely go with the veteran Eminger as a 7th defenseman. However, Sauer had a hell of a game last night. Forget about the goal he scored (which was a nice one), he was excellent in his own end all night. I watched him closely away from the puck a bunch of times and he was always in position. In particular, on one penalty kill in the third period, he blocked several passes and positioned himself perfectly in front of Bertuzzi who was screening Lundqvist.
There were rumors after the game that Sauer may be being shopped around the league. The problem with Sauer is that if the Rangers do decide to send him back to Hartford, he has to clear waivers. The Rangers could be thinking that if Sauer goes on waivers he'll be claimed by someone, so they might as well trade him and get something of value in return. I know it makes sense to carry a veteran as the seventh defenseman, but this kid has impressed me and I'd be sad to see him go just so the Rangers can dress Eminger sporadically throughout the season. I wonder now if the Rangers will keep Sauer and send either Valentenko or McDonagh down instead because they do not have to pass through waivers.
- Derek Stepan had another solid game tonight (1g,1a) and he seemed to have good chemistry with Sean Avery. Ruslan Fedotenko was also on that line and he continues to play well enough to have probably landed himself a contract as a result of the tryout. My guess is a one year deal somewhere in the range of $750k-$1M. Stepan has to be on the Rangers roster to at least start the season based on the way he's played in the three games he's been in.
- Valentenko didn't stand out as much to me tonight as he has in other games but he still threw his body around and seemed solid in his own end. What impresses me is that he got caught with a stick in the first period. I watched him skate to the bench and assumed he had a minor cut. I watched to see if he played next shift and he did. As far as I'm aware, he didn't miss any time. It wasn't until after the game that I saw that Valentenko broke his nose on the play. That's the type of crazy stories you hear about in the playoffs, but the fourth game of pre-season?!?!? The kid gets major bonus points for that. He knows that this could be his playoffs I guess. My guy tells me that he may be the odd man out when the season starts. But, that's not a terrible thing, he's another bright spot in the future even if that's the case.
- Todd White is as good as gone in my opinion. I'm not sure what exactly the Rangers are expecting from him by continuously playing him in a fourth line role. But, whatever they were looking for, White didn't accomplish it. He was invisible again tonight. I can't see him sticking with the team, too many other players outperformed him in camp.
- For as far back as I can remember there's been at least one Rangers defenseman that the Rangers fans jump all over. There was Tom Poti, then Marek Malik and most recently Wade Redden. Book it, this season Michal Rozsival is going to be hearing from the Garden boo birds A LOT. Rozsival is actually a semi-decent defenseman, another guy who is significantly overpaid but he's not as terrible as some fans would have you believe. Hopefully he has a strong start to the season because once those boo birds start, they are relentless!
- Sean Avery was once again one of the better forwards on the ice. He scored a goal, had several shots and seemed to be all over the place. I'm not sure if the coaches plan on possibly keeping that line together, but if Christensen grabs the #1 center position and Anisimov centers the second line, Stepan could find himself centering the third line.
- Speaking of EC, as you'll know if you've been reading the blog lately, I'm not his biggest fan. He's probably played well enough however to guarantee himself a spot with the big club and all signs point to him starting the year between Frolov and Gaborik. It's not that I have anything personal against the guy, it's just that he tends to be VERY inconsistent.
- I hope the sporadic chorus of boos I heard tonight at MSG when Boogaard touched the puck were were similar to the "Pruuuuus" for Prucha and the "Beuuuuuu" for Beukeboom. It's unfortunate that the Devils had no one that would fight The Boogeyman and it was expected that the Detroit Ballerinas would have no one on their team willing to dance with him either. A good beat down will have the crowd cheering for him. Maybe he'll find a willing partner on Friday or Saturday in Alexei Kovalev :)
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