The Rangers picked up a 5-4 skills competition win over the Sens, bringing their pre-season record to 4-1. Tonights game is likely the one in which Derek Stepan has forced the Rangers to keep him on the squad. Since game 1 against the Devils Stepan has never once looked out of place and he’s emerged as one of the Rangers top six forwards over the pre-season. He was given the opportunity to play on the top line with Gaborik and Frolov from the get go and he exceled. He then was dropped down to pivot Avery and Fedotanko and he didn’t miss a beat. Any thoughts in John Tortorella’s mind of sending Stepan down have likely vanished.
Stepan had opportunities early in the game and eventually capitalized on a short handed two on one with Fedotanko. The goal said a lot about Stepan, he was caught back in the play and outskated a couple Senators to force the two on one. It was out of pure effort and desire that he was in a position to put the puck in the back of the net. In the third period Stepan showed his inexperience though when he turned the puck over on the Sens blue trying to do a bit too much with the puck. The turnover nearly resulted in a Daniel Alfredsson goal but Lundqvist was able to bail him out. Despite the mistep, Torts still had the confidence to pencil in Stepan as his second shooter in the skills competition and he didn’t dissapoint – pulling off a nice move and beating Brian Elliot between the legs. If the Rangers are serious about their youth movement, Stepan is in the lineup on opening night.
– Brian Elliot won’t ever to be able to live down the 3rd period goal he let in by Derek Boogard. That was the first goal for the Boogeyman in 222 games. For you math majors out there thats nearly four full seasons. The last time he scored was January 7, 2006. I was still in highschool back then, still playing real hockey, and years away from being the lazy p.o.s that i’ve become in college. Just to be clear, I’m not one of those people that care that Boogard hasn’t scored in half a decade. He gets paid to break faces, not put the puck in the net, end of story. The best part about his goal tonight though… it doesn’t count for anything, the 222 game drought continues.
– The ghost of Marc Staal was beat twice on Sens goals. Then he made an appearance scoring the game tying goal on a beaut of a move – good timing on his part.
– Steve Eminger is just not a good defenseman. But he’s likely going to make the team and sit in the press box as a standing threat to any defenseman who doesn’t play well. He probably won’t see the ice but the Rangers would rather keep him as a seventh and give players like McDonagh, Valentenko, or Gilroy ice time in Hartford.
more after the jump..
– Despite the four goals, Henrik Lundqvist looked ready for the regular season. There really wasn’t much he could’ve done on any of the goals
– Brian Boyle or Tim Kennedy? It seems like thats the battle that has developed for the fourth line center spot and with his goal tonight Boyle likely has the upperhand. Aside from the goal he skated well and for once used his big frame to bang some bodies. He looks like a different player from last year.
– Last but not least Erik Christensen scored the game winner in the shootout. Any Rangers fans calling for his head need to be put it to rest, like it ot ‘lump it’ he’s on the team. He make a good second or third line center but if he’s going to carry the load pivoting the top line with Gaborik and Frolov he needs to be consistent, something he has never been in his career. A top flight center is the difference between a good first line and an absolutely lethal first line right now for the Rangers.