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Rangers Fail To Impress In Preseason

by Steve Giacobello

Usually, the Rangers are impressive during the preseason and fill Ranger fan’s with excitement, and all sorts of high expectations based on their preseason performance, only to become a huge disappointment come April and playoff time.

Maybe this year will be different. Maybe this year thing’s will go the opposite way. Maybe the Rangers will thrive and turn the heads of the fans and the league during the regular season when it really matters, rather than visa-versa. 

I hope so…because there was nothing to get excited about from the Rangers during their 9 preseason games this year. During those nine games, the Rangers only bright spot was the play of Jamie Lundmark, who’s a sure thing to make this years squad. 

But is that a good thing, or a bad thing? 

It’s a good thing in the sense that it’s always a plus to see your youth develop, improve, and challenge for a spot with the big club…but it’s a bad thing when a 21 year old rookie outshines your veteran players, especially when the veteran players we’re talking about here are named Messier, Bure, Nedved, Lindros, Leetch, and Holik. 

Another disappointing thing that I noticed this preseason was that the Rangers were pushed around, out-worked, out-muscled, out-hit and on the losing end of every fight this preseason. This is quite disturbing, especially coming from a roster that includes Sandy McCarthy, Dale Purinton, Matthew Barnaby, Krzysztof Oliwa, Darius Kasparaitis, Eric Lindros, Tomas Kloucek and Bobby Holik. Not a good sign taking into consideration how physical the game is today, especially now, in the middle of the “Age of The Power Forward”.

The Rangers need their “big boy’s” to set the tone physically every night and send a message to the rest of the league that they can’t, and won’t be pushed around and/or intimidated. It wasn’t done in the preseason games, but it must start Wednesday night in Carolina and continue throughout the season. On paper this looked like it would be the toughest team the Rangers have ever had…not the case so far.

Another slight concern that comes to mind after the preseason contests is the large number of injuries suffered by the Rangers. The Blueshirts will start the regular season with big name players like Bure, Holik, Messier, Lindros, Leetch, Kloucek, and Blackburn all either nursing, or coming off injuries….the most serious of them all was the injury Bure suffered that caused him to quickly undergo surgery to repair some torn cartilage in his knee…he’ll likely miss the first 3 or 4 games of the season. Messier’s injury is being called a “hip-flexor”, but there’s really been no word as to how serious, or if he’ll miss any time. 

All in all the majority were minor injuries, but still should be some cause for concern. I know that after 9 preseason games you can’t pass judgment on a team, or judge how a team will perform, or even take a guess at the success they’ll have or not….but when you have a payroll like the Rangers have, and the big name players that they do…you can only sit and wonder, based on what they’ve shown so far in the preseason, at how improved this team really is. Judging from what I’ve seen so far…it might be another long season for the Rangers and their fans.

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