The air's getting cooler, schools are getting back in session and the baseball season is mercifully winding down. I guess this means hockey is just about ready to get started again and this past week we got one step closer with training camps opening up around the league and preseason games starting this week.
With Rangers camp opening up we got a slew of news, storylines and narratives that we have all picked apart like hyenas going after a wounded wildebeest ... or something.
One of the big storylines is, of course, the new coaching staff and the new system that the Rangers and Alain Vigneault are implementing during this season and there a lot of different buzzwords for this year like "up tempo," "loose," "not John Tortorella." I liked the hiring of AV and his group of assistant coaches and after reading about and seeing some of the drills and reactions to it, I'm really beginning to buy into this new regime. While yes, it's still training camp and the preseason and nothing is for certain come the regular season, some of the ideas and philosophies that are being discussed are really refreshing.
Another of the more interesting developments is the sudden competition for the backup goalie spot between Martin Biron and Johan Hedberg. Marty missed the first two games of training camp dealing with some personal issues and the Rangers turned to the jobless Hedberg and signed him to a PTO with Alain Vigneault stating this is going to be an actual competition. I'm not quite sure why there's a competition for probably the most inconsequential position on the team, but hey I'm not the coach.
Now to breakdown some more random thoughts
- Oscar Lindberg and Danny Kristo have really surprised me this training camp, I didn't think Lindberg would be as good as he's been and with some spots open on the opening day roster I think both he and Kristo could possibly play themselves onto the big club.
- That being said, I think Lindberg, Kristo, and Jesper Fast all play 80-90% of this year in the AHL. There's a big difference playing in the preseason and prospect tournaments compared to the regular speed of NHL games. Need to get themselves acclimated to a full speed North American game.
- I have a feeling Chris Kreider is gonna have a very ... interesting year. After being yanked around all of last season and barely given a chance until the Rangers had their backs against the wall and one foot in the grave, AV admitted he didn't know much about Kreider and I have a feeling he's gonna be given a prime opportunity to make a strong impression early in the season. It's up to him to make that impression.
- Mats Zuccarello is gonna prove a lot of people wrong.