Here are a few excerpts from our chat last night with Andrew Gross from Ranger Rants. The whole interview as well
as the rest of the show is available as a podcast here:
Or as always you can check out all our podcasts at Blueshirt Banter Radio.
Ok here are some of the things Andrew had for us last night:
On Alexei Semenov:
Semenov is a guy who makes a lot of sense for the Rangers because they can pay him right around the league minimum, and he'd probably be ok with that. When Randy Jones gets put on waivers by the Flyers, the main issue is the Rangers can't squeeze his big contract into their little cap space.
On Semenov's role:
Semenov is not the key cog here. He's a depth guy, a 7th D, who you can probably throw in there every three or four games if you had to. He's a guy that can fill in when one of the rookies needs to sit a game to assess what's going on, a teaching game as it were. You want that 7th D to be a veteran like Semenov, who can sit for stretches without it effecting his play. The other thing I like about Alexei is he's a really good guy, he's easy to talk to, he knows English very well, and I've noticed with the young Russian kids (Lisin and Anisimov), he has a really good rapport with them, and they seem to look up to them.
On "Camp Torturella":
Most of the players I spoke to said it was the hardest camp they'd been through. One of the players who told me that was Vinny Prospal, and Vinny's been through some of Torts' Lightning camps. What Vinny was saying that made it so much tougher this time was in the past, when the players had to skate, Tortorella would have them skate as line units, and Vinny said it was easier to go around the rink as a unit because you had some teammates around you. He said this time was much more individual, you weren't skating with guys you would normally be paired up with, so everything felt like a one man battle.
On Chris Drury this camp:
I think he is really taking the "shut up and play" mantra to heart. Until proven otherwise, if he gets off to a really bad start then maybe I will believe his wrist hasn't fully healed or there is something else going on. Tortorella was talking about Drury, and the two of them are learning a lot about each other, they've kinda developed a pretty strong bond. Tortorella has made a point of speaking to him on the phone, and speaking to him in person, and they're developing that "Coaching staff-Captain" relationship, and Chris has been a mainstay in the locker room, getting Tortorella's point across. He's almost an extra assistant coach in the room that way.
His thoughts on this season:
I've seen the online predictions that have the Rangers finishing anywhere from 5th to 13th in the conference, and I pretty much agree with all of it. I have no clue what this team is going to do this year. I've been wrong sometimes; my first year on the beat I think Sather was coaching and I was convinced Eric Lindros was going to get this team back into the playoffs, and I couldn't have been more wrong, but at least in my mind I had an idea where that team was going. I think this team is going to be better than not. I think what we saw in the preseason they went 3-3-1, and I think that's a pretty good indication of what you are going to get from them maybe the first couple of months of the season, as they figure out exactly what John Tortorella wants from them. So maybe they go .500 over the first two months, and then I think you come to the fork in the road: they are either going to take off or they're not. My gut tells me that with Henrik Lundqvist in net, if he's having a decent season, and with a healthy Marian Gaborik this is going to be a team that's going to score 5 goals a game, or at least have the potential to. My long rambling answer I'll say they are back in the playoffs.
Andrew also shared some thoughts on Vinny Prospal and Henrik Lundqvist that you can hear on the podcast.
Make sure you are following Andrew on Twitter: @agrossrecord
Don't forget: Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine and Newsday's Arthur Staple tonight at 7 PM on Blueshirt Banter Radio!