petr prucha

The 3rd Line Question?

by Pete Robinson

What to do, what to do? That is the question the Rangers staff is most likely mulling over. With 14 men sent a packing to Hartford, the Rangers have 37 players left on the sheet. Tonight we saw our boys in blue take on our cross the river rivals, the New Jersey Devils. Once again, our prospects did us well, with our first preseason win. One contributor would be our very own Ryan Callahan, who broke out at the end of last season after being called up. The question is who will be centering with young Mr. Callahan and his fellow winger Petr Prucha?

Well, from the beat writers, there were rumors that Callahan was playing down the center for a while during the training. Is this a preview of things to come? Possibly. Ryan Callahan has played center once before in Junior Hockey, but when he was drafted in 2004, he became a winger. Or, will it be Marty Straka playing down the center of the two young guys. It all depends on Marcel Hossa.

If the chemistry continues between Jaromir and Hossa, with the addition of Scotty Gomez, we may have our first line locked up, but what will they do with Straka? Well the second line already looks locked up between Avery, Drury, and Shanahan. This would mean Straka will meet his new line mates on the third line. Now who will center? I would assume Straka, who has played center before, would be the likely choice. This would make the line Callahan, Straka, and Prucha. Not a bad set up. Two young kids and a veteran in between? Not bad at all, but what if the Hossa situation doesn’t work out? What then?

Well, we still have two young studs, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, looking to make the cut for this year’s team. Both are strong players and both have proven themselves ready to take the spot, but do the coaches think that? For starters, Dubinsky played between Straka and Callahan tonight, which put a goal up on the board. All three players moved and played well together. Dubinsky, to me, seemed to be the better choice, but that was only one game. As the preseason comes along, we may see Anisimov open up and start hitting the net. Though or now, Dubinsky is the better candidate.

The coaches certainly have tough choices to make. With prospects like Dawes, Byers, and Korpikoski still in the running, who can be replaced? Will Hossa be dropped if the chemistry with Jagr is gone? What is the fate of Ryan Hollweg? Certainly there are a lot of questions to be asked and a good deal of combinations to be made within the next week.

In about two weeks we will know the verdict for our prospects who are vying to make the team. Certainly by next week the team will cut another 10 players, putting us one step closer to our final roster. So we will see. Is the team getting younger? Or not?

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