It was not a Stanley Cup winning performance but for the New York Rangers it was also not a bad way to get the 2011-2012 season going. A 2-1 overtime loss in front of a grumpy coach who sat in the stands and gave half-hearted compliments to his players.
Yes Torts it was a sloppy game as what were you expecting from the 1st exhibition game of the season? Yes the ice was terrible as it was Albany NY a couple of days before the official start of fall.
But we found things to like starting with the play of 2nd year goalie Cam Talbot who sent a message to both Chad Johnson and Scott Stajcer that he does not want to travel to Europe. Talbot in our book has set the bar for the 3rd goalie spot with the Rangers; we believe the goalie(s) who travel to Europe are there to give Henrik Lundqvist and Marty Biron time off between games.
Talbot showed off a very good glove hand as he made a couple of nice saves including robbing Ilya Kovalchuk of a goal. The stats for the game were not detailed but the Rangers allowed New Jersey to register 41 shots on Talbot and Henrik Lundqvist.
We also liked Talbot's lateral movement as well as his positioning but as a couple of people mentioned on Twitter left his 5 hole open a bit too much. We say the goalie who does not go to Europe because that goalie is going to be the starter for the AHL Whale.
The Rangers went with a mostly inexperienced lineup so here is how we saw things starting with the 1 teaching tool we would be doing tomorrow morning. We tell all of the prospects that yes it is great you are trying to give us an extra effort but just keep things simple and let the game flow to you.
Christian Thomas and Shane McColgan both had a nervous 1st period followed up with a better second. Thomas had a great setup for a wide open Anisimov in the crease that Anisimov should have scored on. Thomas is so well known for his goal scoring that people forget he is an excellent passer too.
Carl Hagelin and Ryan Bourque continued their strong play but right now if it was us making the call then Bourque would get the roster spot. Hagelin has speed plus but he needs to keep his game simple.
Bourque actually earned props for making a mistake and how he handled it. Bourque had a bad turnover but rather than mope about it made a strong play back to create a turnover to get the puck back.
On defense, Tim Erixon is going to wind up with a roster spot in part because of his play but also because Micheal Del Zotto is not learning from his mistakes. The spot is Erixon's to lose and the one way he could lose it is by not showing any offense.
How is it that a guy who has superior puckhandling skills like Erixon does is not joining the rush? The Rangers need to get some offense from the guys on the blueline and Erixon offers a good potential.
Del Zotto is giving away his roster spot by not learning from his mistakes of last season and playing without any real confidence. Here is a question that I would love for the Rangers to answer; why isn't Brian Leetch working with Del Zotto?
Show us anyone better on the Ranger coaching staff and we will shut up but if there is any one person who could best help Del Zotto out, it would be Brian Leetch. Pick up the phone Glen please?
Dylan McIlrath had the jitters in the first period then hit every Devil in sight after that. Another thing that stood out about McIlrath was knowing when not to fight as he started to go after Eric Boulton but stopped when he saw the refs hand in the air.
A good sign that he is understand that there is a time and place to fight rather than costing the Rangers a power play.
Why cut on Friday is the question we have as then most of those going back to CHL teams will have missed out on games this weekend. If you are going to cut then cut on Thursday so the prospects can get into the lineup for their teams or keep them until Monday and try to get as many of them into a game as possible.
We still expect all CHL players except for Andrew Yogan and Scott Stajcer to be returned to their CHL teams. Yogan and Stajcer will be sent to the CT Whale camp to see if they can make the team since they would be overage players in the CHL.
Portland Winterhawks 24/7
4 years ago nobody would even admit to being a Portland Winterhawk fan but the Winterhawks we believe are about to become the first CHL team with their own online broadcast network. Todd Vrooman the new Communications Manager for the Winterhawks has put together an online 24/7 network for Winterhawk fans on live365.com.
Fans will be able to listen to games on their phones or on their computers, check out podcasts and round table discussions as well as a whole lot more. Double stick tap to the Winterhawks for an idea that we expect to see hockey teams at every level including the NHL copy.
Playtime Is Over
By Friday night the WHL and OHL will have joined the QMJHL in getting their regular seasons underway. The Islanders have already sent back several of their CHL prospects so time to get serious.
Nothing fancy is being planned but we will try to conduct some interviews with some of the prospects during the season here rather than just the Blueshirt Bulletin as we hope to get Islander prospects involved as well.
If you attend prospect games and wish to submit a report then by all means please do as the more eyes the better. Let us know in advance and we will hook you up with some scouting sheets.
(Talbot courtesy of UAH)
11 hours ago