Welcome back! =)
Before I get to any of the Coyotes/Prague stuff (which I will) just wanted to start with some comments on today's NYRs game. I was not able to see Saturdays. Sounded like a fantastic game. And as upset I couldn't see Stepan's amazing performance live - simply thrilled for the kid. He has been impressive and this is only the beginning. Great stuff.
Meanwhile, there was a game on the Island today. I just finished watching in its entirety, hence the delay.
* Again, I didn't see Game 1 of the season, but both Callahan and Dubinsky looked much improved to me in today's game. Untimely penalties aside, of course. These two players need to be two of the team's most important. I saw almost indifferent play (indifference, Callahan? I know, I didn't think it possible either), from both in most of the pre-season that I saw. Glad to see they've stepped up a bit. Everyone else was doing so and proving themselves; these staples to the team had no choice but to do the same.
* I thought the team, for the majority of the game, passed well. After so many years of watching a collection of epic lack of connective passes, this team has a good sense of where their teammates are, and I'm liking what I'm seeing. We all know Gaborik can stickhandle with the best of them, but how nice to see, for example, the connection formed between Stepan, Avery, and Fedotenko. Three guys in serious question going into camp about where they stood. Three guys that in the pre-season and today's game that I feel really good about. Stepan needs some form of stability because he's a rookie. Avery needs some form of stability because, well, he's Avery. Good things all around.
* Speaking of Avery. I was on twitter earlier and desperately wanting to see the link everyone was posting. I just now watched after the game was over. Look. I never loved what Avery did two years ago. It was certainly not necessary and certainly distasteful. But I was clear in defending the fact that he is not a criminal, not a villian - any more than the anyone else in this league - and that his suspension was in my opinion both excessive and unnecesssary and certainly having to do more with who he was than what he did. I still don't doubt that. So we take Wisniewski. Crude - yes. Unnecessary - probably. Worth six games - no. Worth anger management - certainly no. But, for the league to do nothing would be wrong. If Avery's remarks were crude, hurtful to Dion Phaneuf and his girlfriend, and unbecoming an NHL player, how can the NHL disciplinarians look at what happened today and say that Wisniewski's actions were not a) crude and b) unbecoming an NHL player. To me that's clear as day. So I'll be very curious how this shakes out. The NHL has already looked foolish in their a) suspending Avery so harshly in the first place and b) being so biasedly unwelcoming in his return to the NHL later that season. If they make no example of this, they pretty much prove what we already know - do what you want in this league, just as long as your name isn't Sean Avery.
* A shame that the Rangers took those untimely penalties late in the third that allowed the game to get away. And a shame that it was Marc Staal, arguably the Rangers best 5-3 penalty killer (next to Hank) that was in the box for the high-sticking call. Still doubting how valuable he is? I'm not saying the Islanders don't score on the PP there, but I'm kind betting they don't score twice.
* Speaking of the defense, how beautiful is it to see the shots coming from the point, like evidenced in Girardi's and Del Zotto's goal. The Rangers have the guys that can do this (Staal hit a post in the game, and Rozsival has been known to hit the net from time to, well, time). They have to do it. I see this team being more offensive than last year, but it has to come from the defense. The NYRs started last season getting those contributions, and then it disappeared for most of the year. It can't happen. Look at successful teams, and know, it can't happen.
What can I say - I like this team. I - for the first time in a what seems like a really, really long time - like pretty much every person on this team. So far they've looked good, shown good work ethic, quickness to the puck. I like it - a lot. I like them - a lot.
But, point is, let's not get ahead of ourselves. One, because two games never does a season make. Obviously. And two, because, for the last two years the Rangers, too, have started the season well - amazingly well. And, then proceeded to stumble and flounder and go up/down, up/down, up/getting the picture here...? So, it's early. It's still early.
More on the NYRs when I get around to watching Saturday's game on Tivo, or when the league makes a comment on today's gesture of the moment. And more sometime this week/weekend on Yotes as promised.
=) Happy Hockey season everyone!!!