Live professional games are blacked out when you order MSG from out of town, even preseason ones, so the discerning Pittsburgh-based Ranger fan is left with no choice but to stay up for the encore showings for his preseason fix. When the game is a 9:00 puck drop to begin with, that means watching the game starting at 12:30 AM. Plus, the listing got fucked last night, so I missed the first and last 10 minutes. So forgive me if my impressions are completely off-base, but here they are anyway!
The two overarching takeaways seem to be: those young forwards are really fast, and we made a lot of defensive mistakes. That is absolutely the right summary. It is also largely uninteresting, because it describes basically every 18-year-old hockey player trying to play at the NHL level ever. So, while I too was impressed by speed and disappointed by defensive lapses, I'm trying not to get too worked up over either.
Here's what I think I learned:
-- I may have been right when I said I like Jesper Fast. He had another impressive offensive game, and I'd like to continue to see more of him in the Blueshirt. Vigneault presumably even liked him enough Monday night that the coach ended up switching him with Kreider, and so he had a chance with Richards and Nash, which was fun. Speaking of lines that may or may not exist in the coach's head, the Pouliot-Brassard-Zuccarello line appears to remain a thing, at least for now.
-- I may have been wrong when I said I like Justin Falk. Obviously, Monday's 1-game sample is no bigger than than the previous Monday's was, but he was a step behind in it. Does this mean he's worse than Stralman? Or penalty magnet Stu Bickel? Who can say?
-- I now have something to say about Marek Hrivik: Hooray Marek Hrivik! Dude's been hanging out with Danny Kristo, and it's been quick and delightful. You know that feeling you get whenever you watch the Oilers play these days? Like, you know they aren't actually a big deal, and that none of this holds up, but you can't help getting excited? That's how it is to watch these two. It's starting to look like Hrivik, Kristo, Fast, and Pouliot should top the list of forwards you've never heard of who might still be around next week.
-- Relatedly, I'm just missing the Oscar Lindberg boat for some reason. He centered that duo last night, and he seems to be on the coach's short(er) list, but he hasn't stood out for me at all.
-- This part sucks. Arron Asham has actually had a pretty good camp. Understand: this does not make him any less of a codpiece, and it would be far easier to root for a Ranger team without him than with him. But, he's been fast, strong on the puck, making the right passes, and responsibly position. I'm sad about it, because if he'd looked this week like he looked last season, I wouldn't still be faced with a reasonable possibility of rooting for a team that employs Arron Asham. Other people this is bad news for: Micheal Haley.
-- Meanwhile, while I'm not inherently opposed to Vigneault's experimentation among forward positions, either I've found center Darroll Powe to be significantly less effective than winger Darroll Powe, or I'm remembering winger Darroll Powe as being better than he was. Brandon Mashinter hasn't looked any better, but he's not supposed to, and he did punch Cam Janssen's face a lot last week, so for some reason I just have more positive feelings about him.
-- Aaron Johnson has not gotten any better since last week, paired last night with the Invisible Tommy Hughes. I wouldn't blink if both were cut today. Conor Allen, on the other hand, actually made some nice plays opposite Marc Staal. Although, maybe that's just the effect of being opposite Marc Staal. In the best news of all, against all odds, Marc Staal appears to be Marc Staal again.
-- None of Dylan McIlrath, Danny Syvret, Michael Kantor, and Andrew Yogan got the chance to suit up in either of these two games, after all had uninspiring showings last Tuesday. With only two preseason games left and a 39-man roster still to be whittled down, I can't imagine the Rangers holding onto spots for any of these guys (although my imagination may be lacking).
-- It was nice to see J.T. Miller finally get some action after starting camp with an injury. He looked all right, but it's hard to judge either way after just the one game. So this is me, spending three sentences to say "I don't really know what to think about J.T. Miller right now."
Is that everyone? I hope that's everyone. With the final two games of the preseason tomorrow night and Friday night, I expect more roster cuts today, though it's hard to say how many (Twitter, the ultimate source for such things, seems somewhat split on this issue right now). I guess, looking at what I've just written, that the obvious cuts are something like: Haley, Kantor, Mashinter, Yogan, Johnson, Hughes, McIlrath, and Syvret. That's 4 forwards and 4 D-men, bringing us to 19 and 9. If I were in charge, it looks like I'd also cut Powe and Lindberg (and probably Bickel, whom I left off of that list because we don't need to go down to 8 defensemen yet and because my father likes him).
So, those were my impressions. I guess we'll see later today how closely they line up with the coaching staff's.