NEW YORK, NY – Well, it looks like Buck Showalter is not messing around this post-season, as the Orioles ran roughshod over the Tigers in the ALDS opener last night. The Birds led the entire game and blew Detroit’s doors off with an 8-run explosion in the 8th inning. The O’s will look to go up 2-0 this afternoon – a noon start that can’t make teams happy – as part of a full slate, with both ALDS and both NLDS series in action. I’m predicting the Orioles to win in 4, Angels in 5, Nats in 4, and Dodgers in 5.
But more important than the abundance of post-season baseball today is the New York Rangers’ preseason tilt against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. The Rangers’ split squads have looked decent so far. There are a lot of new faces in the Blueshirts’ lineup and a lot of good young players.
Kevin Hayes has had a decent preseason, showing glimpses of his potential in spurts but he hasn’t been consistent in his appearances. Coming into the preseason I thought Hayes would be a lock to make the opening day roster, but after watching him play so far and with the emergence of Anthony Duclair, I think Hayes will start the season with the Wolfpack in Hartford. When he does come up to the big club, Hayes will probably slot in on the wing. He’s shown that he is definitely not ready to play center yet.
19 year-0ld Anthony Duclair, or Tony Duke as I’ve taken to calling him, has made an instant impact this preseason with the Rangers. The speedy sharphooter came in as a fringe player destined for a season in the AHL. But his impressive displays so far have the Rangers scrambling to dump a contract to make a spot for him on the roster. The Rangers will probably have to give up a prospect for a song to make way for the Duke. With Derek Stepan set for an extended stay on injured reserve, look for the Rangers to clear space in the coming days and for Duclair to start the season with the big club.
The Stepan injury is a big blow to the Rangers. Stepan will mis the first seven or eight games with the broken leg. We’ll see how quickly he can get in shape and perform the way The Stepster should. Last year, after ending his holdout and missing all of preseason, he struggled to play well until the end of December. Then he turned his season around to put up some pretty solid numbers. Let’s home Step gets in shape and makes an impact faster than he did last year.
With a full training camp for Nash, St. Louis and co. under Alain Vigneault, look for the Rangers to make a strong start. There’s plenty of speed to go around with JT Miller, Duclair, Chris Kreider, and Carl Hagelin. With Ryan Malone and Tanner Glass adding some toughness, and Henrik being Henrik between the pipes, there’s a lot to be optimistic about. The loss of Anton Stralman in defense is tempered by the addition of Dan Boyle. The Rangers should be at least as strong defensively as they were last year. Drop the puck!
Lets Go Rangers!
A man that you’d think has gotten too many puck to the head after speaking with him, Junoir Blaber, tomorrow.