Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And We're Off!

Yes! We're off and skating! There was plenty to like - and dislike - last night as our Rangers once again took the ice at Madison Square Garden - their first home action since a game six loss to the Washington Capitals in last year's playoffs.

It was clearly pre-season hockey - no sign of Gaborik or Lundqvist - lots of youth and some sloppy but spirited play. But it was great to see those Blueshirts (and those never-mentioned red pants) skating around the home ice surface again.

And here's our Bright Side - Dark Side recap

First - the Bright Side

- Our Young Defenders looked very good. Gilroy and Del Zotto both looked at times like they can be NHL defensemen. And that's very good - because we may need them both to be exactly that. Gilroy looked the better of the two and launched 4 shots on goal as well.

-Higgins looked sharp. Chris Higgins our new winger played very well with the puck and scored the Rangers lone goal. Tortorella mentioned afterwards that the Rangers are counting on him to score goals and be a "top six forward" - and the early election day returns are good.

-I love that the Garden crowd was into it. Some real life on the building s - which feeds in part - from the attacking style of the team. And I like the booing of Brashear. We may embrace the guy eventually (his first fight with the Devils or 'slanders will probably do it) but I like the fact that the Garden fans do not give the guy a free ride - he doesn't deserve one.

-Valiquette looked pretty good. 18 saves on 19 shots in just over half a game.

-And overall we got better as the game went along. The pressing style, if nothing else, is fun to watch. It will generate some chances on offense and take the pressure off the goaltenders. 32 shots. Artem "Anis" Anisimov won 9 of 16 faceoffs

And now - The Dark Side

-Penalty Kill - we told you so. We used to be great at the Penalty Kill. Then we dumped Sjostrom and Betts and guess what? We let up 2 goals on 6 power plays and lose 2-1. It is, of course, ridiculously early but, so far - so bad.

-Power Play - terrible last year and this year we picked up where we left off. 0-2. In a league where special teams are the difference most nights we had a poor showing and it was the difference in a 2-1 loss.

-Early slump - we looked slow and lethargic at the start - but that may be because Torts has been working the guys so hard. It did get better as we went along

-Penalties - we got called for six!

Next Game:

The Devils tonight in Newark at 7pm. It's only pre-season, but then again, against the Devils its never just pre-season. Great to be underway!

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