Rangers and Pack Take Hits…Stats and More…

By Evan Andriopoulos
The season began not unlike anyother…some questions at the NHL level and some at the AHL level. Vladimir Malakhov went down quickly thus allowing the entry of NHL journeymen Drew Bannister and David Wilkie to get a shot… followed by Jason Doig, Tomas Kloucek and Dale Purinton. Even Mike Mottau was called upon to lighten the offensive workload of Brian Leetch… but to date only Purinton has been able to gain countable ice time due to his toughness and pro-team mentality that the 1999-00 Rangers so lacked. Eric LaCroix then was felled by an injury allowing Johan Witehall to earn some NHL icetime as well as recently acquired pseudo-prospect Bert Robertsson (ex.Vancouver,Edmonton and Columbus-prospect). Let us not forget Mike Richter`s recovery from last seasons knee surgery which thrust Kirk McLean and a host of others into the nets at MSG, see..Johan Holmqvist and Jason Labarbera.

While the players benefit from gaining valuable minutes in the NHL veteran and rookie AHLers in Hartford have been called upon to carry a large, large workload. Jason Dawe joined Jason Doig with long term injuries or season ending… this forcing G.M. Al Coates to search the leagues for players. Bryce Wandler, Goaltender was summoned from nearby New Haven of the UHL to guard the pipes while the Rangers AHL netminders toiled in New York.

The additions of Ryan Bast (ex Islanders), Boyd Kane(ECHL) and Richard Scott added to the Pack`s aggressiveness, however four of the team’s most physical players last season – Dale Purinton(NYR), P.J. Stock(MTL), Chris Kenady and Chris Wells(DAL) – have gone elsewhere. The loss of an improving Doig to a knee injury 21/2 weeks ago further hurt the team’s physical presence. Doig may not return until early January.

The Wolf Pack need to gain immediate AHLers that can hit and put the puck in the net…so that when need arises Coates can take the call and send someone a ticket to NYC and not yet thin out his roster in Hartford.

AHL PROSPECT WATCH….

Brad Smyth continues to lead the Pack in scoring tallying 19 goals in 23 games while Derek Armstrong adds 17 assists and 25 points followed by Mike Harder with 7 snipes and 20 points. Johan Witehall(NYR)recorded 10 goals in 19 games and Jeff Ulmer 6 goals and 14 points. Other notables…include Burke Henry who`s game seems to be maturing… he has 3-11-14 and 52PIMs this season. Veteran Kenny Gernander with 4 goals and 11 points and rookie Mike Mottau with 2-10-12 totals are also playing better hockey as of late. Ofcourse Stefan Cherneski with 1-2-3 totals in 23 games.

In the nets:
Vitaly Yeremeyev (3-3-1 1.62gaa and 1so) leads the way followed by Johan Holmqvist(4-3-2 2.76gaa).

Sather is about ready it appears to drop a bomb so stay tuned….it may be a Merry Christmas for some and not for others…