It was in the air.
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The Rangers had a stinker versus the Flyers over the weekend. The Isles were now back home, facing their nemesis from the big city. And, of course, it was the preseason. No points on the line. Players playing for spots, or just to fit in with the rest of their team.
So, as the game started, it was not surprising to see Andy Sutton give Ryan Callahan a clothesline as if he was the WWE wrestler. After all, Andy was new to Long Island, and he wanted to just say hello. Ryan took the greeting like a sack of potatoes, completely not expecting Sutton's exuberance and hospitality.
The tone set, the Rangers played the PP without too much issue. Then Sutton came out of the box, and had a breakaway chance. Unfortunately, grace and finesse is not a crease-clearing behemoth's type of game. So he was stuffed. But, Colton Orr quickly obliged him some fisticuffs right after...and away we went...
Only seconds later, Kip Brennan, one of my faves to watch this preseason, drops the gloves with Jason Strudwick. Brennan pounded him pretty good.
Chris Simon and Ryan Hollweg have a few run-ins in this game. At one point, as Hollweg lined up Radek Martinek, Simon jumps in to fight him. Strudwick jumps in also, and we have a full out battle....
...After all, this is how hockey fans know it's autumn. Gloves litter the ice.
So, as Simon is getting mugged as he's pegging Hollweg's head like a birthday party piñata...Rick DiPietro comes out to offset the gangup, trying to pull a player off. And then Al Montoya for the Rangers, is forced to come up the ice. Al doesn't seem that thrilled to be amid the fists flying, but he's staring at Rick who is doing his Good Will Hunting schoolyard impression: "How you like them apples!"
The line of Comrie - Guerin - Feds created all the goals of the game. As the Isles were down 4-1, completely losing composure, they were able to capitalize on penalties and eventually tie the game. All three getting the goals, and Berard being a huge factor on defense to help feed the puck.
As Comrie netted the gamewinner in OT, thanks to another powerplay as Shanahan got into it with Freddy Meyer, it was a capper to this bigger story. How the penciled in line that Nolan and Snow put together has become a steam engine in camp, preseason, and is rolling along to the start of the season. How these fights only bond the team tighter and help jell those new players together.
Those watching the defense should be impressed with Berard's emergence last night. His play was stepped up, and was second star of the game, behind Comrie (who had two goals). Personally, after that display, if Berard can keep that pace and stay effective, he will definitely make the team. I'd say that Freddy Meyer might be the one shed via waivers or trade, unless the Isles plan a bigger deal to move their glut of dmen. Aaron Johnson is getting an extended look, but with his two-way contract, I see him being sent down.
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