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09-17-2008, 01:23 PM
Training camp notebook: Sept. 17 edition

Sam Weinman

Update, 12:05 p.m.: On-ice workouts are done. I’ll check in after some interviews.

Update, 11 a.m.: Uh, I guess Zherdev is OK, because he went on to score his first highlight-worthy goal in a Rangers uniform (fine, practice Rangers uniform). The wing carried the puck through center ice, dumped it to Markus Naslund before taking a pass back from Gomez and wristing a shot in from the right side.

Chris Drury and Patrick Rissmiller also scored good-looking goals for white.

Tough day for Hugh Jessiman, who was hit hard first by Thomas Pock, then taken off the ice after getting in the nose by Colton Orr.

Altogether, pretty high intensity for mid-September.

Update, 10:26 a.m.: The first “yikes” moment of training camp comes when Dane Byers comes up high with a shoulder on Zherdev. Zherdev is helped off the ice, and misses the next shift (where he’s replaced by Lauri Korpikoski), but eventually returns and actually gets a decent shot on goal.

Through the first period of the scrimmage, each side has a goal on a penalty shot (blue by Ryan Hillier and white by Petr Prucha), but the play is a tad sloppy. I continue to be impressed by Callahan and Dubinsky, who controlled the puck well in the offensive zone.

Not to be forgotten is Petr Nedved, who set up Patrick Rissmiller in front, but Rissmiller fanned on the shot.

Update, 9:46 a.m.: The Blue practice is over. On some rush drills, it’s clear that the Zherdev-Gomez-Naslund is going to fluster teams with their speed. But connecting on scoring chances is another story. At one point Gomez rushed into the zone, left a drop pass for Zherdev, but the wing couldn’t get a shot off in time.

More impressive actually was Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan on an energy third line. Dan Fritsche was on the left wing, although I don’t envision him staying there.

The actual scrimmage in a few minutes will be more telling.

Still no news on Brendan Shanahan, who isn’t here…

Michal Rozsival doesn’t care who Harry Howell is. He’s still wearing No. 3 in practice. That’s obviously going to change at some point…

Earlier: So here’s my story on the Rangers’ expectations heading into training camp. Some still aren’t shy about referencing a Stanley Cup, which I suppose is fine.

If you’re not optimistic at this time of year—when the power play still hasn’t sputtered, the defense still hasn’t looked soft, and your line combinations still haven’t proven to be a complete failure—when can you be optimistic? Not that I’m saying those things are going to happen. It’s just that they DEFINITELY haven’t happened yet. And I maintain that the lower expectations surrounding the team this season will only help, because I don’t envision the same type of early-season stick squeezing that plagued them last October.

Of course, this team might be jet-lagged for the first three weeks and won’t be able to stand upright as a result, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves….

Meanwhile, I’m off to the rink momentarily. My plan is to update this post throughout the day with news and notes from the split squad workouts. First up is a Blue team practice featuring the likes of Markus Naslund, Nikolai Zherdev and Wade Redden, followed by a scrimmage against the White unit at 10.


09-17-2008, 01:24 PM
Spirits are high, and so are expectations


There’s a lot to talk about after physicals and interviews on the first day of training camp. Unfortunately, I’m on a tight schedule so let me get to some highlights:

# Players were bouncing around the Training Center, but just about everyone, including Tom Renney, was available to talk. In the absence of any hard news—still nothing to report on Brendan Shanahan, who wasn’t here—most just talked about their expectations for the season ahead. Some, like Scott Gomez, again spoke openly about a Stanley Cup, while Markus Naslund would only say this is a playoff team, and that just about anything can happen from there.

“But this team in mind is capable of being one of the top teams in the league,” Naslund said.

# Naslund also shrugged at the notion that he’s the guy to replace Jaromir Jagr.

“That’s not really fair because Jaromir in my mind is one of the best players to ever play the game,” Naslund said. “I’m not going to be able to fill his shoes on my own. But I’ll do my best to play as good as I can. Hopefully it’s going to be a team effort and that’s where we’re going to have success.”

# I asked Gomez if he’s more willing to take on a prominent role in his second season. “Yeah, I’ll tell a guy to f—off now,” he cracked.

# A bit about the training camp schedule. Players will be divided into three teams—red, white, and blue. The red team is essentially the group that is in Traverse City now while the blue and white are primarily comprised of the players who will play in the exhibition games. There are exceptions. For instance, Bobby Sanguinetti and Michael Del Zotto are both on the red team, and they are likely to see some time in preseason games.

It appears that players will be assigned to Hartford prior to the last exhibition game before Europe, which is Sept. 27.

# Renney will obviously use the first days of training camp to tinker with line combinations. From what I saw, Gomez, Nikolai Zherdev, and Naslund will all be on the blue team together; while Chris Drury, Petr Prucha, and Nigel Dawes will be on the white. Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan are on the blue as well. I will clarify later if need be.

# Strange sight in the player’s lounge: Wade Redden was talking to the media while a replay of the 2007 Stanley Cup finals between Ottawa and Anaheim was playing on the NHL Network in the background. At one point, Redden scored.

“Nice shot,” someone said.

“Yeah, hopefully you’ll be seeing plenty of that this year,” Redden replied.

# Only a split squad will travel to the exhibition games. On Saturday, it’s the white team that will travel to Ottawa, while the blue and red will stay back in Westchester and skate. From what I can tell, Naslund and Zherdev will make their debuts Monday at the Garden as part of the blue team.


09-17-2008, 01:38 PM
Good read. What else is on the schedule for todays day at Training Camp? I'm gonna mark this and keep in on what's going on.

09-17-2008, 01:49 PM
Good read. What else is on the schedule for todays day at Training Camp? I'm gonna mark this and keep in on what's going on.

I'm not sure what ielse is on tap but Sam Weinmans Rangers Report is the most frequently updated Rangers blog on the net in my opinion. Here is the main link.