Pregame: It’s already started. Brandon Dubinsky and Zenon Konopka (???) were getting into it during warm-ups. Nothing too crazy, just a lot of jawing back and forth. Avery felt the need to get into it at some point also. You gotta love that no matter either team’s successes/failures in recent years, this is still a heated rivalry played with tons of emotion. Be interesting to see which team can harness that emotion and use it their advantage as the game progresses.
Couple of noteworthy things: AHL sensation PA Parenteau is in the lineup for the Islanders. Once a dependable member of the Hartford Wolf Pack, Parenteau made in onto the Isles and now has a shot at his former organization. Also, the matchup between Lundqvist and DiPietro will finally be renewed. These two had some great duels against one another when DiPietro was healthy, so it should be exciting to see how this one plays out.
Update 1:18pm: Nice tempo to the game. Both teams have established the forecheck and have had some decent scoring chances up to this point. Derek Boogaard had a nice rebound opportunity in front of the net but couldn’t put it home. Nice to see the 4th line putting on some pressure. Couple of big hits being thrown around as well, most notably Derek Stepan (<3) along the boards on Andrew McDonald. This kid can really do it all.
Few empty seats in the lower tier of the Coliseum. Its true there isn’t a bad seat in the house there, but you have to wonder how many companies actually observe Columbus Day.
Update 1:22pm: Well that was quick. Brandon Prust and Konopka drop the gloves. Very evenly matched combatants. Real long fight that was easily a draw.
One of the biggest improvements I have noticed so far in the young season is the Rangers play in the neutral zone. They are sound both defensively and when moving the puck in between the blue lines.
Update 1:28pm: Golden opportunity for the Rangers that came up empty. Torts decides to put Gaborik out on the penalty kill and jumps all over the puck when Dough Weight fans on it at the point. Gaborik takes off for the breakaway and Weight pulls him down, clearly resulting in a penalty shot. Of course Gaborik decided to shoot it right into DiPietro’s pads, making him look much better than he actually is. I don’t understand why players still decide to try and rip it passed the goaltender on shootouts and penalty shots. Come in with a head of steam and get the goalie to move back and forth and side to side. Much higher chance to put one home
Update 1:33pm: Ughhh. Huge gaffe by Michael Del Zotto. Mishandled the puck while stickhandling in front of his own net, Blake Comeau picks it right up and nets an easy rebound. Don’t need me to tell you that that’s a no-no. Islanders 1, Rangers 0
Update 1:36pm: Rangers get one right back. Great puck movement on the ensuing power-play and Brandon Dubinsky didn’t quit on the play and eventually banged one up top. It was easy to see in the preseason that these Rangers are a resilient bunch. Here’s hoping that Dubinsky can have a breakout season: I had said before that I felt he peaked in years prior, but he’s off to a hot start with 3 goals already. Rangers 1, Islanders 1
Update 1:43pm: Lots of action in this period. Lundqvist makes a beautiful save in the slot but the Isles continue to pressure. Josh Bailey eventually roofs one from practically his knees on Hank. Islanders 2, Rangers 1
Its worth noting that whatever the Islanders goal song is, its rather, how do you say, feminine in nature. I can’t make it out, but I think it may be Faith Hill or something. Thank goodness the Rangers have such a fun goal celebration.
Update 1:48pm: End of the 1st period. Really a great period of hockey for the fan in you. Lots of forechecking and physical play and 2 of the goals were scored by sheer grit and will. The difference right now is Del Zotto farting the puck out right in front of Hank. Overall, a pretty even period with both teams getting plenty of quality chances. Expect the Rangers forwards to drop down a bit in the defensive zone to support the defense and help get the puck out to possibly nullify a strong Islanders forecheck.
Update 2:10pm: The Fedotenko-Stepan-Avery line continues to create. Avery just had a goal waved off after a great second effort in front of the net. DiPietro clearly had the puck covered, but Avery kept playing and poking at it but the whistle was blown appropriately. Gotta love the effort that this line puts forth. And Avery really looks strong so far. He’s playing smart and playing abrasive at the right times and he has really carried whatever momentum he had during training camp and the preseason into the first game and a half. He has to stay healthy though.
Update 2:18pm: Michael Del Zotto has really responded after that earlier screw-up. He’s been a great quarterback on the power play, this time firing a shot from the high point that get tipped off an Islander’s stick and went into the net. Its important to note the quality of the shot: hard, low, and able to be redirected and deflected passed the goalie. Those are the kind of things they teach you in pee-wee hockey. Glad Del Zotto was paying attention
Update 2:27pm: Practically a 3rd power play goal for the Rangers. It had just ended when Girardi placed a smooth wrist shot high blocker-side over DiPietro. The Rangers definitely have something going with these shots from the high point. Not all of them are getting it though: to quote my father “Roszival hasn’t shot the damn puck since that Buffalo game.”
Update 2:42pm: End of the 2nd Period.nnBackbreaker. Another goal scored with the Isles crashing the net with just 20 seconds remaining. Can’t let up goals late in the period like that, as that could really turn the momentum in this game. After the Rangers took the lead and really neutralized the Islanders forecheck, to let up a goal that late can really come back to haunt them. But like I said before, this group is resilient and I don’t expect much change moving forward. Should make for a great 3rd period of hockey
Gonna have to hand it off here. Making my way to the new Meadowlands to see the Jets take on the Vikings. Will certainly be listening on the radio but unfortunately won’t be able to update the blog. Go Rangers!