Alex Ovechkin is in the lineup tonight for the Capitals so that'll create a little buzz in the Garden tonight. Actually, these last two preseason games should be more representative of NHL action as teams continue to trim their rosters.
The Rangers, at 23, are close to opening-night ready. As for Bobby Sanguinetti, 21, being sent down to Hartford (AHL) today, here are some thoughts from John Tortorella.
"We wanted to get down in numbers," Tortorella said. "He had a really good camp. He, to me, is a guy that needs to keep playing. The difference in him going down versus the others (read: Michael Del Zotto, Matt Gilroy) is the speed of his game, the speed of his decision making, the speed he moves the puck. Everything about his game just needs to be quicker
"He'll improve. (The AHL) is a great league. Will he be back? I don't have a crystal ball. He had a great attitude. He still has some work to do."
The Rangers don't seem sold on Sanguinetti and the whispers are they've shopped him already.
More Tortorella: I asked him about Sean Avery saying he'd be ready for the opener a week from tomorrow in Pittsburgh: "He's not a doctor. But he knows his body. One thing that will help him is he came into camp in tremendous shape."
And on Artem Anisimov: "If he's going to be in the top 20 (Tortorella said, if he had his druthers, he'd carry just 20 players), I don't think he'll be a top six forward but he's a guy we can put in those situations within the game."
The translation on Tortorella saying Anisimov is not a top six forward: Not right now. He's not saying that Anisimov doesn't project as a top six forward.
Live updates as warrented during the game.
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FORGOT TO MENTION: Brandon Dubinsky is making his preseason debut tonight. His line at the beginning will be him centering left wing Enver Lisin and Ryan Callahan.
STARTING LINEUPS: Rangers: G: Henrik Lundqvist; D: Wade Redden-Michal Rozsival; F: Christopher Higgins-Vinny Prospal-Marian Gaborik. Capitals: G: Jose Theodore; D: Karl Alzner-Jeff Schultz; F: David Steckel-Matt Bradley-Brooks Laich. Mike Green, Chris Clark, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Semin also in the lineup for the Caps.
6:44 First period: Another active, aggressive start for the Rangers, four straight games now. They're outshooting the Caps 4-1. Caps' best moment was the Milachi Crunch they put on Artem Anisimov in the neutral zone.
8:35 First period: Another forgot to mention but this, of course, is team's first meeting since Caps won Game 7 of their first-round series. Of course, with so many new faces on the Rangers, it hardly seemed worth mentioning anyway.
9:17 First period: Donald Brashear having a tough time winning over the Garden crowd. A few "Brashear (stinks)" chants after he's called for hooking.
11:20 First period: The Rangers penalty will be different this season and it probably won't finish first in the NHL again. But their more aggressive brand of penalty killing may ultimately serve them better. Tortorella's philosophy is to use his top players on all special teams, which is why guys like Marian Gaborik, Christopher Higgins and Chris Drury will see so much PK time. The Rangers will be looking to score shorthanded with frequency, as Anisimov did at Boston. The Blair Betts-Fredrik Sjostrom combination was great for the Rangers last season but was far from a goal-scoring threat. The Rangers, this season, should resemble more what the Flyers have in Mike Richards.
18:39 First period: Michal Rozsival's hooking penalty on Chris Clark is a perfect example of the rules that don't allow defensemen any leeway in slowing an opposing player's progress toward the net. Yes, Rozsival clearly got his stick around Clark but it didn't seem like he did all that bad a job at all.
First intermission: Shots are 8-8. Rangers have slowed a bit because of penalties from their good start. And a troubling economic sign: Rangers just flashed something on the scoreboard advertising tickets still available for opening night against the Senators on Oct. 3.
:36 Second period: Please refer above to my discourse on the penalty kill. This is what I was talking about. Christopher Higgins forces John Erskine into a bad turnover in the neutral zone and Marian Gaborik, just coming off the bench, collects the puck at the Caps' blue line and beats Jose Theodore five-hole for a shorthanded goal. Rangers now have two shorthanded goals this preseason (Artem Anisimov as well). That was Marian Gaborik's first goal of the preseason.
5:46 Second period: Dubi's back. Great cross-ice pass to spring Ryan Callahan in on Theodore. Callahan draws a hooking penalty against Chris Clark to put the Rangers back on the power play.
8:00 Second period: The crowd was hollering for Michael Del Zotto to shoot but the rookie did a good job getting down low to the hashmarks on the power play. He's got very good ice presence.
8:58 Second period: Active sequence. First, Matt Gilroy makes a brilliant defensive play by knocking the puck off Alex Ovechkin's stick as Ovechkin skated through the slot. But Alex Semin grabs the puck, backskates and snaps a wicked shot over Lundvist's shoulder. Seven seconds later, Donald Brashear's first fight as a Ranger does not go well. After dancing with Brandon Sugden, Brashear moves in to throw a punch and instead slips/falls/goes to the ice after Sugden throws the only three punches. Lots of boos. Which is a good time to announce I'll be writing a brief feature on Brashear in tomorrow's paper.
12:37 Second period: Marian Gaborik now has two goals in the preseason. Technically, another special teams goal as Alex Semin had a delayed penalty for tripping Brandon Dubinsky back in the Rangers' end, retaliation for Dubinsky running him into the side boards hard (Dubi probably had his head of a swivel to see if Semin would come up slapping).
17:00 Second period: Alex Ovechkin's pass to Keith Aucoin completes a three-on-one started with Artem Anisimov turning over the puck in the Capitals' zone. For a preseason game, this is a pretty entertaining one to watch. Gaborik vs. Ovechkin.
19:55 Second period: Donald Brashear not doing much to win over the fans, taking a bad (but weak) slashing call against Mike Green.
Second intermission: One of the fans I've become friendly with near the press box described the difference between Colton Orr and Donald Brashear and why Brashear won't be an automatic fan favorite, which tough guys usually are in New York. Orr, the fan said, was a fighter. Brashear is a goon. I, of course, am lucky enough to have another perspective because I get to meet these guys. Brashear is liked in the dressing room and is actually a soft-spoken guy with a good sense of humor with children aged 9 and 7. But what he's judged on, of course, is his on-ice demeanor and until he wins a few fights here, he'll probably be not well liked. Even after he wins a few fights he might never win over the crowd.
"He's a real good guy," Aaron Voros said. "I wouldn't say it's surprising but you never know a guys demeanor, attitude or personality until you bring a guy into the room."
2:15 Third period: Brashear-Sugden II. This one a draw, though Sugden is clearly more tired after the lengthy bout is finally stopped.
5:59 Third period: As Tortorella promised, Dubinsky is getting some time centering Gaborik with Christopher Higgins on the left wing. It leads to a tripping call against Karl Alzner.
FINAL: Rangers 3, Capitals 2: Tortorella used his post-game press conference to criticize the media (surprise!), saying we had somehow disrespected Donald Brashear when the Rangers signed him this summer and that's at least part of the reason the Garden faithful are booing him so much. Well, that's a bunch of horse hockey. The media reported when Brashear was signed that he was the one suspended for crushing Blair Betts' face in the playoffs. But Rangers fans have a long history of disliking Brashear, dating well before his days with the hated Flyers. Brashear is, in his own words, "a tough guy," and that means he's naturally a villian in opposing rinks. No doubt, Brashear, as he said after the game, will win the crowd over after he wins a few fights, but, for now, he's going to hear some boos. Just imagine what the reaction would have been had Dave Schultz been traded to the Rangers in the mid-1970s. It's not going to be an overnight love affair between Brashear and the Ranger fans. Look, Tortorella is right on some of his criticsm of the media, probably more than we in the media would like to admit. On this, he couldn't be more dead wrong.
As for the game, plenty to like, mainly seeing the potential that Marian Gaborik brings to the lineup. His quickness impresses his own teammates. Dubinsky said on Gaborik's breakaway goal, his shot was so quick Jose Theodore didn't have time to move.
"It is exciting," Dubinsky said. "He is one of those game breakers that we didn't have last year. He is a guy who is going to score big goals for us when we need them. He was great tonight. Obviously that shot of his is pretty scary. That breakaway, I don't even think the goalie moved and the other one it was just perfect placement. If I play with him, I will try to get him the puck as much as I can in scoring areas and I will find myself some assists."
"When I saw him during one of the breakaways, I knew I was going to celebrate with him because he is such a phenomenal talent," Christopher Higgins said. "It is pretty much a guaranteed goal."