Labbe Having a Great Rangers’ Camp

By Evan Andriopoulos
With Captain Kirk’s ship on the ground, Jean-Francois Labbe is the leading candidate to at worst start the season as the backup goaltender for the New York Rangers on opening night. Labbe, a veteran AHLer who helped Milan Hnilinka (Signed by Atlanta Thrashers) backstop the baby Rangers to the AHL Championship, is 2-0-1 in the intrasquad srimmages, having allowed only 3 goals in those games. He is currently battling European signees Vitali Yeremeyev(Moscow Dynamo) and Johan Holmqvist (BrynĂ„s), as well as North Americans Bryce Wandler and Jason Labarbera, not only for the shot at MSG ice but AHL ice. Rumors have it that if Labbe does not make the parent Rangers he will be sent to Houston of the IHL, even though Houston will receive a Columbus Blue Jackets top minor league goalie to be named later.

No one seems to be more deserving of a true shot than Labbe. With the Wolfpack last season, Labbe posted a 27-13-7 record with a 2.52 goals against average. In his one appearance with the Rangers, in front of a porous defense, Labbe yielded 3 goals in a loss. He has posted 55 wins in two AHL seasons with the Rangers organization and 3 shutouts to take note of. His best season was with Hershey (AHL) when he notched 34 wins and 6 shutouts leading way to a Hershey Championship and his touting as the AHL’s top goalie.

Hopefully, Labbe will get the shot he so deserves and the eyes of the NHL will be given the opportunity to see this minor league veteran guard the pipes.

NOTES:

Stefan Cherneski shined on Monday, notching a goal in his first impressive preseason showing. Cherneski has had 4 major knee operations and is battling back to regain the status as a bright prospect that he held just two seasons ago. Cherneski disappointed in his first days of camp but had a nice showing on Monday. Tony Tuzzolino, on a tryout basis, has also impressed as has Francois Fortier (2 assists) and Derek Armstrong, who spent the summer weight training and climbing Pike’s Peak, a 14,700 foot mountain in Colorado. Armstrong, although a long shot with center all sewn up, is impressing. Other notables from camp include Filip Novak and a more muscular and slender Sandy McCarthy. Novak has shown excellent passing skills, while McCarthy is showing he can bring the toughness the Rangers need. McCarthy is a more all-around player for the Rangers and has really shown his offensive ability. Mike York continues to dazzle while playing on a line with McCarthy. Tim Taylor has been working hard as well, as expected.

Jamie Lundmark has been up and down. When down, he has been muscled off the puck showing his lack of size. When up, he has shown flashes of the skills needed to be a NHL contributor. Pavel Brendl has been playing better, but by no means looks close locking up a spot.

Keep and eye open for further camp updates and thanks for reading!