Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So How Did They Do?

Yes it was only one game but when you have a very short time frame to make an impression on the coach then anyone in the lineup for the New York Rangers on Tuesday night needed to come right out smoking. If reports are to be believed then 24 are expected to be cut after tomorrow's game against the New Jersey Devils.

We are not going to bother talking about the returning veterans as their jobs are basically set. Instead we will talk about the prospects and those from Hartford since they are the ones who are really fighting for jobs. In that case expect Evgeny Grachev to earn himself an extended stay with the Rangers as of all the players; Grachev in our eyes was the best Ranger out there at both ends of the ice.

If Grachev does earn a spot on the opening night roster then we suggest that here is one of the Ranger penalty killers. Grachev never gets enough credit for his play in the defensive zone but there he was staying in position, not getting caught flat footed or not afraid to use his body.

Torts appears to agree with us as Grachev was out there on the PK using his size, strength and skill to his advantage. You had to love his skating out there as that used to be one of his weak areas but we liked how he went to the net on offense.

Michael Del Zotto on the other hand had a case of the nerves in the first period but settled down and rebounded to play a decent game. Del Zotto showed that despite his improved body that he still can get bodied off the puck which will change as he gets stronger in his upper body.

Still Del Zotto's main calling card is going to be his offense and he failed to register any shots on goal. Del Zotto's offense is going to be fueled by his skating so he must start attacking the net to draw defenders to him if he is not going to take the shot.

There is no question that eventually Del Zotto will become an NHL regular but while he showed flashes of talent he still shows that he is green. There is no shame in sending him back to London for another season as he is just 19 so the push to have him make the Rangers now seems kind of silly.

You had to like the play of Matt Gilroy as he overcame his own nerves in the first period to show both sides of his game. Caught along the boards on the Bruin's first goal, liked how he adjusted to that mistake and was not caught out of position again.

Liked how he took the shot when he had it and did not think twice about as many young players have a tendency to do. Kept his cool when the Bruins came at him a couple of times with a high elbow but did not let his emotions get the better of him.

Then there are those who we wanted to see more from: Michael Sauer was quiet and if he wants to beat out his fellow rookies for a roster spot then he has to play with more determination. Artem Anisimov was clearly very nervous at the start of the game then disappear, we know he is way better than what he showed.

Dane Byers
also was like Anisimov only he did give a couple of good shifts in the 3rd. He too has to show more if he wants to beat out Voros or Boyle. Matt Zaba fought the puck and while he had a couple of good saves, he is very much not ready for the NHL.


The Big Cuts

If we was going to play roster guessing games then those who play in the first half of the AHL/NHL doubleheader will be the core of the 24 players cut after the NHL portion. Our suggestion to those in that game is play like your career depends on it because for some it just might.

With the OHL and WHL joining the QMJHL in regular season play, then expect Ryan Bourque, Ethan Werek, Scott Stajcer, Roman Horak, and possibly Sam Klassen to be sent back to their junior teams. None of them have a serious shot at making the Rangers so returning them to the juniors will increase the amount of ice time they will see.

Those playing in the evening game bought themselves some time and in the case of Matt Maccarone (AKA Maccastache according to Tweeter @nyr351) may have played his way into a Hartford contract. Maccastache played a good game for a guy who spent last season in the Central League (one level below the ECHL).

Maccastache is a 6'7 222 lb center who was a teammate of Marc Staal on the Sudbury Wolves raised a few eyebrows with some decent skating for a guy his size. Very much a project player but worth a longer look.


Can We Confuse the Heck Out of You?

To give you an idea of some of the changes in the rulebook this year we very much invite you to read this piece by one of the very best writers in the WHL, Greg Drinnan. There will be a quiz on it later so study up on it and prove that you can be just as confused at first glance as we were.


Spreading Our Wings

Tomorrow we will be joining up with some really cool guys as they launch a new website devoted to the serious hockey fan. None of the lame rumors or promises of being insiders, just 50+ bloggers who will cover every team in the NHL.

So what will we be doing there? Expanding our wings as we will be the resident blogger on hockey prospects for all of the NHL as well has talking about future stars. It is a very serious effort made because like so many of you we are the serious fans too.

Nothing will change here as Prospect Park will still be the place for Ranger prospect coverage but it is a chance to expand to a new audience as well as a huge new challenge. We will also remain with the Blueshirt Bulletin because Dan is also going to be doing some very exciting things to improve the very best place for Ranger's information anywhere.

Once we go live I will post a link and ask for your help and feed back.

(Pictures courtesy of Grachev and Gilroy: New York Rangers, Michael Del Zotto: Oshawa Generals)

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