Monday, September 28, 2009

The Last Sunday of the Preseason (Sep 27)

The last major day of the preseason schedule went down with seven games, most of which giving players a last ditch effort to make their respective teams. In some cases, it may have worked, but there will be cuts today and tomorrow... well, likely all the way up to Thursday, so nothing is quite complete yet. It was some good hockey on Sunday, as a great deal of it was shown on the free preview of Centre Ice. Good times.

The Washington Capitals sat on a 4-0 lead against the Rangers and held on to beat the team from the Big Apple, 4-3. Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves for the victory at the Verizon Center. The only multiple-point skater in the game for Washington was Brooks Laich, who scored a goal and added an assist in the win. Laich had a good year in 2009 (53 points in 82 GP) and will be looking to build on that in 2010.

The Rangers made pretty good use of their third period, almost making a complete comeback, coming up one short in the end. On the scoresheet, it was Marc Staal who came up with a pair of assists, making this paragraph possible. Staal is going to make more of an effort on the offensive side of the play this season, likely putting a few more points on the board in 5-on-5 situations.

The Lightning went into Phillips Arena on Sunday and messed around the place a little bit, beating the Thrashers, 5-1. Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier all chimed in with three points a piece. Stamkos getting a pair of goals, St. Louis a pair of assists and Lecavalier was all assists. That's the kind of production that will put Tampa Bay back on the Eastern Conference map, but they'll also have to be consistent, which isn't one of their strong points of late. Mike Smith had another win, making 20 stops.

The Red Wings weren't going to let the Penguins beat them again, even if it was the preseason. Brian Rafalski turned in his best game of the preseason, assisting on every Wings goal in the 4-1 win. It looks like he's ready to get this season started. Over-the-summer acquisition, Jason Williams, had a goal and an assist on the power play, while Pavel Datsyuk also potted a goal and an assist. James Howard also put in a solid performance, making 25 saves in the win.

The Predators finished off their preseason schedule with a 4-2 win over the Blue Jackets on Sunday. Dan Ellis made his bid for the number one job with a 36-save win. The decision between him and Pekka Rinne will be a tough one going into the start of the season. Ryan Jones also joined the recap with a pair of goals in the win. Last season, he had seven goals in 46 games and should have a full-time job this year.

The Sabres gave the Maple Leafs something to think about when they start discussing who is going to start in net for the season opener, as they beat up Vesa Toskala for seven goals in a 7-6 win. Let's go over the scoring list, shall we? Derek Roy had three assists, Thomas Vanek had two goals, Jason Pominville & Craig Rivet had two assists, while Clarke MacArthur, Nathan Gerbe, Jochen Hecht and Tim Kennedy had a goal and an assist each.

Despite the Leafs goaltending concerns, they do have some offense to counteract those questions or at least provide a good argument against them anyways. The Leafs did count six goals last night, thanks in large part to Lee Stempniak, who had two goals, Nikolai Kulemin & Viktor Stalberg with a goal and an assist and Matt Stajan, Francois Beauchemin & John Mitchell each recording a pair of assists. There is plenty of talent in the offensive end, which should keep the Leafs competitive this season.

The Ducks hosted the Kings on Sunday night for both teams final preseason game before the regular season starts. The Ducks went with J-S Giguere, who ended up with a 31-save effort for the 5-4 win. After this preseason, I have a feeling that Giguere may have the starting job for the season opener. On the scoresheet, it was Bobby Ryan leading the way for the Ducks with a pair of goals and an assist. It could be a good year to breakout for Ryan. Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and James Wisniewski each recorded two points each as well in the game, Perry and Getzlaf scoring one goal each.

You would think that if one of your players had a 4-point night, that the rest of the team would rally around that and help win like a team by the end of the night. Ryan Smyth had two goals and two assists, a part of every Kings goal, but it still wasn't enough. Anze Kopitar had a 3-point night and sometimes that's usually good enough for a win at the end of the night, but that wasn't to be either. Kopitar had two goals and an assist. Maybe the Kings will need to find some more scoring depth besides one line.

The Oilers and Canucks finished off their preseason schedule in Edmonton on Sunday night, with the Oilers beating Vancouver, 5-4 in overtime. It was Nikolai Khabibulin who registered the win for the Oilers, making 23 saves in the 61 minutes of action that he saw. Mike Comrie had the first two Oilers goals in the game to finish off his preseason, Shawn Horcoff & J-F Jacques each had a goal and an assist in the game and Ales Hemsky also tallied a couple of assists in the win. This should be making up the better part of the Oilers roster already here.

The Canucks had an outstanding preseason from Russian rookie, Sergei Shirokov, who had another two assists in the game for the Canucks, leaving the game as the only bright spot. Shirokov's overall play in the preseason should have earned him a spot for opening night on Thursday in Calgary. The final decisions should be coming down fairly soon.

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