Saturday, September 20, 2008

And The Season Starts

The Rangers were quiet about their first cuts of the training camp roster as 2008 5th round pick Chris Doyle and Traverse City invitees Nick Pageau and Matt Meropoulis saw action on Saturday evening with their junior teams.

Chris Doyle did not have the best of camps while at Traverse City but upon his return to the Prince Edward Island Rocket of the QMJHL something may have clicked for Doyle in a positive way.

On Friday night despite his Rocket getting beaten 5-2 by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 5-2, Doyle was a bright spot for the Rocket. Doyle scored his first goal of the season and we got conflicting information as to whether or not Doyle assisted on the other Rocket goal but Doyle did lead the Rocket with 6 shots on goal and went 9-5 on his faceoffs.

Doyle also added a good hit as although he did wind up with a -1 and 4 PIMs (penalties were what wound up doing his Rocket in as they took 9 of them) but overall we did get reports that said he played well.

Our hopes for Doyle's future increased after another strong effort on Saturday which were even better than what Doyle did on Friday. Doyle had the primary assists on both Prince Edward Island goals but PEI remains winless as they lost in the shootout to the Moncton Wildcats 3-2.

Mark82 posted this report on yesterday's report:

I went to the Rocket game tonite, and was quite pleased with the entertaining 3-2 win for Moncton in a shootout. Doyle had two nice assists tonite the first one resulted in a really nice goal by Simon Olsson,(reminds me of Afinogenov). But I am still amazed that Doyle is playing center, he is horrible at faceoffs as you know. Overall good game the first line of Doyle, Olsson is really clicking.

Thanks Marko for the eyewitness report but while we agree with you on Doyle should be a winger instead of center, we have to give Doyle some props for going 13-5 on the evening on faceoffs.

By the numbers, Doyle had 2 assists, +1, 4 shots on goal and going 13-5 on his faceoffs. Prince Edward Island is very Ranger like as they went 1-7 on the power play (making them 2 for their last 12).

If we give Doyle credit for an assist on Friday night as we have been told then Doyle is 1-3-4 in his first 2 games which we are hoping is a sign of Doyle putting together a breakout season on the Rocket first line.

At the same time we repeat that Doyle's pro future will be on the wing as Doyle simply does not look like he is all that comfortable at center.

We were not sure if we should cover those who attended Traverse City but did not earn invites to the Ranger main training camp. In the end we decided that they want to be Rangers and for now we will continue to cover them.

Nick Pageau returned to the Belleville Bulls as they won their regular season opener 4-2 over the Peteborough Petes. Pageau also did not standout during Traverse City but upon his return to Belleville played a solid game at both ends of the ice.

It is ironic that Pageau teamed up with the grandson (and namesake) of Ranger legend Andy Bathgate to set up Belleville's 2nd goal of the game. Pageau also was wearing an "A" for this game but it remains to be seen if he will keep it for the entire season.

What we saw tonight was more the Pageau that we knew than the one who attended Traverse City. Hopefully Pageau will keep playing with force and earn himself another shot next spring.

Then there was Matt Meropoulis who returned to the Chilliwack Bruins, was given the Captain's "C"and then like Pageau had an assist as the Bruins opened their 2008-09 season with a thrilling 5-4 shootout win over the Kamloops Blazers.

Prior to Meropoulis joining the Ranger prospects at Traverse City, we were told that this would be the season when Meropoulis broke out offensively.

Meropoulis set up the Bruin's 2nd goal of the game which was a power play goal. For the Bruins who are expected to be offensively challenged this season then this will be a good sign to have Meropoulis leading the attack.

If "Mero" is going to remain the Captain then we think that the Bruins will be a lot better than the experts are thinking.

As for the Rangers

Sorry while people will make the "it was just the first game" argument; forgive us if seeing the team not showing up to play for most of the first period , to play the power play as if Jagr was still on the roster and simply wait until they were down 3-0 before starting to work hard.

That is way too much like the things that bothered us last season and if the Rangers want us to have faith in this team then the team needs to show up on Monday with the opposite start than they gave last night.

We want to also say thank you once again to Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan because we have been saying all along that those 2 are not 3rd line players. IF the Rangers are to have a good season it will be in large part because those 2 will start showing why we called them as part of the future Ranger team leadership.

We would say more but other than predicting that Michael Del Zotto will only be spending one more season in Oshawa there is not much else nice to say so we will stop here.

(Pic credits: Doyle-Prince Edward Island, Pageau-Belleville, Meropoulis-Chilliwack)

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