With the NHL season in Full Throttle the once dead Rangers are starting to head in the right direction. With Mike York adding two assists to his already impressive season the Rangers believe they have found their no.2 center. Swedish defenseman Kim Johnsson continues to play like a veteran with his smooth skating style and soft passes. Around the local media, Johnsson has been noted as New York`s Best Defenseman. Erstwhile Rangers first year goalie Milan Hnilicka did not fare well in his first game against Pittsburgh, getting beat through the “five hole”, Hnilicka stopped 4 of 6 shots but looked nervous between the pipes in MSG as the Rangers fell 5-2. With Mike Richter`s return against Atlanta in a 4-1 win, Hnilicka was returned to Hartford of the AHL.
Newly acquired Alexander Daigle garnered player of the week honors Daigle had two goals and three assists in two games for the Hartford Wolf Pack. He leads his team in scoring and ranks second in the AHL with 10 points with (3 goals and 7 assists) in five games.
The former top pick in the NHL draft has played for Ottawa, Edmonton, Philadelphia and Tampa before being acquired by the Rangers just two weeks ago. This may be Daigle`s last shot at reviving a once promising AHL career.
26 year old winger Brad Smyth is back with the Rangers and looks more like Guy LaFleur. The feisty 205 pounder is working extremely hard at proving he deserves another shot at the NHL and his game has not gone unnoticed. However on a NY.Rangers roster loaded with veteran wingers Smyth will have to wait his turn. The former AHL MVP has been on Hartford`s top line of Alexander Daigle and Johan Witehall.
The first faceoff of the season at the Hartford Civic Center was played before nearly 9,000. (Take Note Carolina and NY.Islanders)…The undefeated Pack dropped their first decison of the season 2-1-4 , 6-5 to the Rochester Americans in OT on a goal by former Yale Center Jason Cippola. To date..Standouts for Hartford have been goalie J.F.Labbe(although shaky against Rochester), centers Derek Armstrong, Francois Fortier, and Alexander Daigle, wingers Mike Harder and Brad Smyth. Alex Vasiliev was noted on defense.
In the Calgary Hitmen`s 6-3 win over Kamloops, Brendl netted 3 goals and 2 assists. Brendl who has been struggling to get out of the gates officially began his quest to prove the Rangers right by selecting him with their top pick after a most unhappy training camp with the Rangers. Brendl has been put on a diet to help improve his conditioning. The top pick of the Rangers also must adjust to a longer season than used to in Europe. While playing a practice heavy 40 game season in the Czech Republic, Brendl must get used to lengthy bus rides and close to 100 game seasons.
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES:
In Charlotte of the ECHL, Kevin Colley 2gp 1-1-2 has played well. Former Lightning Drew Bannister was signed by the Rangers and assigned to Hartford. The former Lightning pick has played for Tampa and Edmonton. He looks to add some “youthful” veteran leadership to the baby Rangers and maybe a shot at the NHL. He joins former Bolts players Alexander Daigle and David Wilkie in the Rangers system.