The lack of depth on defense could be an issue
Heading into this season, the Rangers are one of the favorites to not only take the division and conference crowns, but to possibly bring the Stanley Cup back to New York. Playing in such a condensed season, the Rangers are not only going to have to be good, they are going to have to be lucky as well. There are a multitude of things that could easily derail this powerhouse.
You could say this about the other 29 teams in the league, too, but there’s no denying that a significant injury to Henrik Lundqvist (knock on wood) or several other crucial Blueshirts could ruin the season in a hurry. Considering not everyone is in peak shape, it’s certainly possible that we could see a few major injuries in the first weeks of the season that change the landscape of the playoff race.
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According to Andrew Gross, the Rangers opened camp with a condensed roster. Here’s what has been reported.
Brad Richards, Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt, Chris Kreider, Jeff Halpern, Mike Rupp, Arron Asham
Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Stu Bickel, Matt Gilroy
Henrik Lundqvist, Marty Biron
Be sure to follow Gross on Twitter for all the inside scoop.
Per Jim Cerny, both Chris Kreider and Matt Gilroy are skating at “camp” today. While Kreider was an expected Whale camp invitee, Gilroy’s status was always a bit up in the air. With his inclusion in camp, two things are assumed: 1) Gilroy will likely get an NHL contract when the league resumes business as usual on Sunday (this could be dependent on how he performs at camp), and 2) Kreider and Gilroy are the only players from the Whale roster who will get a look during mini-camp.
If assumption #2 is correct, then J.T. Miller may not be invited to camp. This is mostly because of the nature and timing of camp this year, and not an indication of how the organization views Miller.
Per John Shannon of Sports Net, the NHL will announce the cancellation of the remainder of the preseason this afternoon:
The NHL will announce the cancellation of the remainder of the pre-season later today. No hockey thru October 8th.
For the Rangers, this will mean that their final two preseason games against the New York Islanders (10/4) and the Colorado Avalanche (10/6) will be canceled. The Rangers are set to open the season on 10/12 against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.
This comes one week to the day that the league announced the cancellation of the September preseason games. Based on this timetable, if no progress is made this Friday when talks resume –or over the weekend– then the NHL will start canceling regular season games.
The next shoe in the lockout saga has fallen, and the NHL has canceled all preseason games through September 30. For the Rangers, this means the cancellation of three of their five preseason games, all away from MSG.
The games canceled are the 9/26 and 9/28 games at New Jersey, and the 9/29 game at Philadelphia. The two remaining preseason games –which will be the next games canceled if this isn’t resolved– are 10/4 at Los Angeles and 10/6 at Colorado.
While the cancellation of preseason games may not seem like much, it deprives us of a rare opportunity to see the Rangers prospects in game situations. The Connecticut Whale aren’t on TV in the New York area, and it is almost impossible to find any OHL, WHL, or QMJHL games that are televised.
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Well, here we are. The final installment of the Pre-season Top 30 Goalie’s list. It has been a fun ride, and in case you missed it, here are rankings 30-21 and 20-11.
Ladies and gentlemen…The 2012-2013 Pre-season Top 10.
10. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes- Mike Smith is someone who probably wouldn’t have factored into this list as recently as last pre-season. He signed a discounted, short-term deal with the ‘Yotes to replace the departing Ilya Bryzgalov and it couldn’t have worked out better. It seems the combination of Sean Burke and coming into his prime years finally allowed Smith to fulfill his potential. He is starting to use his size and blocking skill to his fullest advantage, and he has cleaned up his positioning considerably. I’d like to see a little bigger sample size before feeling completely comfortable with this ranking, but what I saw this year tells me Smith is capable of perennial Vezina caliber campaigns. Read more »
With numbers 30-21 taken care of, we move on to the middle segment of the Pre-Season Top 30 with numbers 20-11. As always, make sure to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section.
20. Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers – This one I know I’m going to get fileted for. I know “Mr. Universe” is everyone’s favorite whipping boy, and we all take a little extra pleasure whenever a Flyer’s netminder struggles. The bottom line however, is Bryzgalov is a solid goaltender. As noted in my scouting report on Bryz last season, it’s his style that creates the perception. While his skill level in no way validates his absurd contract, he is a solid positional netminder who I am confident will have a much better showing next season. Read more »
Welcome to Justin’s first annual Top-30 goalies list. I hope you guys enjoy this little exercise, because it was an absolute blast to put together. In this first edition, I will run down the goalies ranking 30-21. Following this post, 20-11 and 10-1 will be revealed.
Before we get to it, I wanted to explain my methodology for compiling this list. “Top” in this case is something of a moving target. Basically, it’s the order in which I would want to see a team pursue a goaltending solution. There are keepers included here for potential, durability, present value and experience. For example, obviously Jose Theodore has accomplished more in the NHL than Jonathan Bernier at this point, and at present, I could entertain an argument that Theodore is a “better” goaltender. However, Bernier has a ton of upside and star potential and I’m not going to sell him short because he hasn’t gotten his shot yet. Ok, got all that?
Without further adieu, Goaltenders 30-21
30. Jonathan Bernier, Los Angeles Kings- While Bernier might not have starting experience in the NHL as of yet, he certainly has the talent to excel in the role. It seems the Kings are always on the verge of trading him so he can spread his wings in a place with more opportunity, but there is no such thing as too much quality goaltending. Read more »
Well, the New York Rangers were bound to lose one of these games, considering the travel and the schedule of the games. The Rangers began in the Czech Republic, played a game, went to Sweden, played a game, had a day off, then went to Slovakia, played a game, and then finished in Switzerland, and played a game. That’s a lot of travel and hockey in just four days. Regardless, the Rangers were absolutely dominated in this game by a very small and very skilled EV Zug team, and wound up losing 8-4.
- Mats Zuccarello had the best preseason of any Ranger player. He felt at home on the big ice surface, but he also played well on the NHL surfaces before the trip.
- Michael Del Zotto had a blown coverage on the seventh Zug goal, but he also has had a strong preseason. He still has some work to do, but he has had a vast improvement thus far.
- Brendan Bell had a strong first preseason game, but has certainly regressed. He has been exploited by these Euro teams as being slow and flat footed, which he is.
- Stu Bickel is only here because Mike Sauer and Marc Staal are hurt. He needs work. It was impressive to see him survive the third cuts, but that survival is going to be short lived.
- Speaking of short lived, Erik Christensen’s remaining days with the Rangers may be short lived. With cuts looming, Christensen completely blew his assignment on Zug’s fifth goal. He deserted the front of the net to chase the puck behind the net, which led to a goal that was inevitable.
- The defense outside of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh is shaky, but when missing your top two defenders, it’s expected. The Rangers were exploited time and time again by a quick Zug team. The remaining four players were either injury replacements (Bell, Bickel), a young defenseman who will have defensive lapses (Del Zotto), or a veteran journeyman (Steve Eminger). That folks, is the definition of a make-shift defense.
- Martin Biron wishes he he had a few of those back. He was not strong at all today. However, at least half of the Zug goals were unstoppable.
- The top duo of Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik clicked again. They are going to generate a lot of offensive chances this year. They looked their best when Brandon Dubinsky (aka Mr. Questionable Facial Hair) was on their line, but you have to figure Wojtek Wolski, who also looked good there, will get the shot once he’s healthy.
- The top power play unit got torched. That’s what happens when you have four forwards and Del Zotto out there (essentially five forwards).
- Holy Artem Anisimov! That goal he had was beautiful. When a video becomes available, I’ll post it.
- Outside of the top duo and Anisimov, there wasn’t really much to praise the Rangers for. It was one of those forgettable games.
OPPONENT: EV Zug
NOTABLE NHLers: Jussi Markkanen (former Ranger), Glen Metropolit.
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Mike Rupp-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Brian Boyle-Erik Christensen-Brandon Prust
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger
Brendan Bell-Stu Bickel
STATE OF THE BLUESHIRTS: The Rangers are 4-1-1 this preseason, but have not looked overly impressive while amassing that impressive record. They were sloppy against Slovan, and have taken entirely too many penalties against teams that are supposed to be inferior opponents. They would not be 4-1-1 if they played this way against NHL opponents. With the roster essentially set, it’s time to get their act together and finish the preseason strong.
CRAZY THOUGHT: Bickel scores a goal.
OPPONENT’S BLOG: N/A
PREDICTION: Rangers 4, Zug 1.
The game is on at 2pm on MSG. There’s also a live stream here.