by Patrick Hoffman on 09/23/08 at 12:45 AM ET
They may not have registered any points but two of the Rangers’ off-season acquisitions looked right at home in their first preseason game on Broadway, a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev impressed the Garden faithful by not being afraid to shoot the puck, going hard to the net and getting back on defense (Yes, even Zherdev got back to break up a few plays). While it may just be one preseason game, Naslund and Zherdev sure looked good with their other linemate, center Scott Gomez.
“I am very excited about playing with those guys,” Naslund told the team’s website after the game. “It went really well for us even though we have not been together for that long yet as a line.”
While Naslund said that he isn’t in New York to replace Jaromir Jagr, he certainly has the chance to put up points like Jagr did as a Blueshirt if he can play well on a consistent basis. To do that, he will need to be placed with the right linemates and so far, it appears that Gomez and Zherdev could be those guys as the line was able to control the puck in the offensive zone for most of the game and generate plenty of scoring opportunities.
To me, at least, Zherdev is going to take a little time to get used to. He certainly can shoot the puck (team high six shots on goal) and dazzle fans with his move but he’s going to need to learn not to do too much because if he doesn’t, he is going to turnover the puck more often than not. With that being said though, he impressed me by not being afraid to shoot the puck and by getting back on defense. Even Ranger head coach Tom Renney was pleased with Zherdev’s overall effort.
“That shows a level of commitment to his teammates and the jersey, and that is the ultimate objective,” Renney told the team’s website. “But he can do great things offensively, naturally, and we’re going to need him to those things, too.”
The other guy, Gomez, was his usual creative self by skating effortlessly through the neutral zone and setting up Naslund and Zherdev on the wing a bunch of times. Again, it’s only one game but at least they appeared to be comfortable with each other on the ice. Whether that happens in the regular season or not is something that Ranger fans will just have to wait and see.
The team’s other notable signing, Wade Redden, also had a solid debut. It’s nice to have a defenseman that can put the puck on net from the point. However, he did get burned on Ottawa’s only goal as he allowed Brad Isbister to blow right by him to create Dean McAmmond’s goal.
Again, it’s only one preseason game but at least the new guys didn’t disappoint. We’ll see how everything pans out in the regular season.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.