Scrimmages get under way at camp

Notebook: Frolov nets hat trick; young talent makes a quick impression

Sunday, 09.19.2010 / 4:36 PM / Team
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Scrimmages get under way at camp
Training Camp Roster
Sather Emphasizes Competition at Camp
Gaborik Back in the Swing of Things

By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

With two days of conditioning tests behind them to open up training camp, the Rangers finally broke out the pucks on the ice Sunday. Split into four groups, the players took part in the first scrimmages of camp, while also engaging in up-tempo practices and off-ice workouts.

In the morning scrimmage, Alexander Frolov scored three goals to lead the Red Team past the Green Team 6-4. Frolov converted a slick feed from Marian Gaborik to put his squad up 2-1 early in the final period and followed moments later by converting on a penalty shot against goaltending prospect Scott Stajcer.

Pavel Valentenko, a defenseman who played in the KHL with Moscow Dynamo last season, scored on a slap shot in Sunday's first training-camp scrimmage.
Frolov netted his third goal of the morning by whipping a shot past Stajcer high to the glove side from between the circles late in the period.

Center Derek Stepan, 20, skated between Frolov and Gaborik and impressed with his ability to set up the two elite goal scorers with slick passes. Stepan also scored the first goal of the scrimmage, after just 57 seconds had elapsed on the clock, when he converted a rebound of Pavel Valentenko’s hard slap shot.

“That was a really good first scrimmage,” said Martin Biron, the winning goalie for the Red Team. “It was fun to get back into a game situation, per se, with referees and all that. We put in the hard work of the first two days of training camp and now we started to put in even harder work to get ready for the season.”

Valentenko, who scored off a slap shot, and Evgeny Grachev, who added an empty-net goal, also scored for the Red Team. Marc Staal, Brandon Dubinsky -- off a gorgeous wraparound pass from Staal, 2010 fifth-round draft pick Jason Wilson, and Jeremy Williams scored for the Green Team.

Defenseman Dylan McIlrath, the Rangers’ 2010 first round selection, played a smart, responsible game for the Green squad, just another step in his maturation process. The rugged 18-year-old has been gaining valuable experience the past several weeks, first playing in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament and now taking part in his first NHL training camp.

“I’m taking it all in, from the on-ice sessions to the off-ice sessions, just picking the brains of the pros every chance I get,” said McIlrath. “I’m looking forward to, if not this year then next, giving it a good run during training camp and hopefully catching the eyes of the staff.”

McIlrath, who said that he felt he had held his own physically against proven professional players on Sunday morning, admitted to being somewhat in awe when he was lined up against Gaborik and Frolov, the top two offensive guns on the Rangers.

“Playing against Gaborik and Frolov was a bit of a dream come true because they are world-class players,” said McIlrath. “I am looking forward to playing with them one day, for sure.”

Lundqvist strong in afternoon scrimmage

The afternoon scrimmage was a spirited hard-hitting contest, featuring a string of thunderous body checks. Henrik Lundqvist turned in a very strong performance as his White Team defeated the Blue Team, backstopped by Chad Johnson and Jordan Parise, 5-2.

Lundqvist successfully stopped two penalty shots during the scrimmage. In the first period, he denied Christian Thomas, the club’s second-round pick in the 2010 draft. And late in the scrimmage, Lundqvist made a sterling glove save to rob Ryan Callahan.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist didn't miss a beat in his first scrimmage at training camp Sunday afternoon, backstopping his team to a 5-2 victory.
The White Team supported Lundqvist’s solid play with goals by Roman Horak, Ryan Bourque, Todd White, Brian Boyle, and Sean Avery. Lundqvist allowed a first-period score to Chris Drury, who rifled a shot to the top shelf of the net, and a late tally to defense prospect Jyri Niemi, whose off-speed backhand shot slipped between Lundqvist’s pads.

Boyle was one of several players on the ice whose play demonstrated how hard he is working to land a spot on the opening-night roster, using his 6-foot-6 frame to pound opponents without mercy throughout the scrimmage. He also made his presence felt offensively with several quality chances.

“There is some great competition for jobs here, but you can’t really worry about the numbers, you just have to do the best that you can,” said Boyle. “There are a lot of guys here, but I am getting older and more mature and realize that I can control only what I can control out here. I’ll see where that takes me.”

Defenseman Alexei Semenov and winger Ruslan Fedotenko, veterans who are in camp with the Rangers on a tryout basis, both played extremely physical games. Semenov, in particular, seemed intent on hitting everyone wearing a white sweater every chance he could.

A pair of veteran Rangers, alternate captain Callahan on the Blue Team and Avery on the White Team, also delivered a series of punishing hits, often to one another. And Johnson, the 24-year-old goaltender, even got into the act by getting a lick in on Avery when the pesky forward was in the midst of wreaking havoc in his crease.

The biggest hit of the day occurred when defenseman Mike Sauer, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 220 pounds, rocked the hulking Derek Boogaard, the 6-foot-7, 265-pound enforcer, with both players landing hard on the ice after the collision.

“All I can control is how I play and how hard I work out there,” said Sauer, 23. “There are a lot of numbers here, but that means they are giving guys looks. Hopefully I’ll get a look in there, too, and I can impress them with what I do.”