The New York Rangers revamped line-up featuring Theo Fleury, Valeri Kamensky, Kirk McLean, Stephane Quintal, Sylvain Lefebrve and Mike York to name a few took the ice after an emotional tribute to Wayne Gretzky in Edmonton. The Rangers started early to show their speed and looked like a much better club than those of the past two years…however the Power Play Problem continues. After the first two games, the Blue Shirts were 0-12 (0 for 6 in each game) albeit a couple were less than 30 second powerplays coach Muckler and General Manager begin to wonder what it will take for this preseason awesome Power Play to translate into regular season goals.
The first game featured a Rangers high speed attack against Sweden`s Tommy Salo. Salo played superbly allowing only a goal to red hot Tim Taylor. Mike Richter was equal to the task, thwarting Ryan Smyth and the Oilers attack under Doug Weight and company. The standouts in games one and two were Mike Richter(51-48svs),Tim Taylor(1goal) and Mike York(1goal). Other noteables included Darren Langdon who had his first scoring attempt of the season stopped by Tommy Salo and his first scrap as he fought the behemoth Georges Laraque to a draw.
Rookie Mike York showed his skill and speed in creating more ice. He followed with his first NHL goal in the Rangers 2-1 loss at Vancouver. Of the newcomers all look like they belong, Kim Johnsson has been taking many offensive chances but with a minus 2 rating to start the season it is likely he will have to focus a bit more on the defensive aspect of the game. Manny Malhotra`s fourth line played strong down low hockey, an area where the Rangers have struggled since the days of Don Maloney and Jan Erixon. Mark Messier notched two assists against his ex-mates in Vancouver`s 2-1 win…and goalie Kevin Weekes notched his first NHL win in more than 12 attempts.
Ed Jovanovski`s hit on Tim Taylor will sideline the Rangers no.3 center for at least a game with a concussion. Taylor also received six stitches to the head. Taylor may be out longer as he must undergo a battery of neurological tests before he is cleared to play. Valeri Kamensky sat out game two with a bruised forearm. he will play in the Rangers home opener versus Ottawa on Tuesday.
RANGERS PICK UP ALEXANDER DAIGLE
As move to cost effectively bolster the center position the Rangers acquired Alexander Daigle from the Tampa Bay Lighting for future considerations. Daigle was headed to assignment in Providence(AHL) when he was dealt to the Rangers. With the injury to Taylor, Daigle may dress for Tuesday`s game in New York versus Ottawa but as of now has been assigned to Hartford(AHL). Daigle the former 1st pick of Ottawa has struggled since entering the league. Tampa was so turned off of Daigle that they refused to loan him to their own minor league affiliate. Daigle has played for Ottawa, Philadelphia and Tampa and has soured each team`s management. Tampa management stated that this is one headache we paid to get rid of. In a strange turn the Rangers will not be held accountable for any of Daigle`s contract. “Good bye and Good riddance!” stated GM.Steve Ludzik (St.Petersburg Times). Daigle will at least upgrade the Rangers talent in Hartford but many NHL scouts see this raw talent evolving into a no talent player.
The Hartford WolfPack won their first game against the Quebec Citadels 4-1 in Quebec before nearly 10,000. PJ Stock had two goals, David Wilkie added 2 assists. Mike Harder and Brad Smyth also tallied for Hartford. JF Labbe kicked away 23 shots in the win. Francois Fortier plus 2, Tomas Kloucek plus 3 and Johan Witehall plus 2 played well in the fight filled game which three fights (2 by Fortier).