by Patrick Hoffman on 09/20/08 at 03:59 PM ET
Well folks, on a nice 65 degree day here in New York, NHL preseason is finally upon us. I’ve been waiting for this day ever since the New York Rangers were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
I know that when looking at the big picture in the National Hockey League, the preseason doesn’t mean that much. However, it actually means something for the Blueshirts as they will be playing two pre-season games overseas against SC Bern and Mettalurg Magnitogorsk.
Tonight, the Rangers open up their eight game preseason schedule against the Ottawa Senators. Obviously, not all of the team’s top players will be playing but according to Sam Weinman of The Journal News, here are the guys who are expected to play tonight in Ottawa:
Goalies: Steve Valiquette and Miika Wiikman
Defensemen: Michal Rozsival, Marc Staal, Corey Potter, Paul Mara, Brian Fahey, and Michael Del Zotto
Forwards: Nigel Dawes, Chris Drury, Petr Prucha, Dane Byers, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Aaron Voros, Blair Betts, Colton Orr, Patrick Rissmiller, Greg Moore, and Fredrik Sjostrom
With this lineup, Renney will get a good look at Del Zotto, the club’s top draft pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Though Renney has been mightily impressed with his play during training camp, it is all but guaranteed that he will head back to the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.
Renney will also have the opportunity to see which guys will fill out the third and fourth lines such as Betts, Orr, Rismiller, Voros and Sjostrom. There’s a lot of competition this year for those roles so it will be interesting to see what Rangers’ head coach Tom Renney ends up doing with the guys he acquired in the off-season (Rismiller and Voros).
Renney probably made the right decision in not having Wade Redden start tonight against his former mates though it would have been interesting to hear how Sens’ fans would have reacted.
The two teams will meet again on Monday night and it is expected that the fans will get to see Redden, Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev. According to various team beat writers, Zherdev has been unimpressive in the team’s camp and fits the bill that Columbus prescribed him: a lazy player on the defensive side who sometimes tries to do too much with the puck.
Again, I know that preseason doesn’t mean too much but it at least gives teams and their fans a chance to look at some players of the future as well as the formation of offensive lines for the upcoming season.
It’s a pleasure to say this folks: hockey is back!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.