One player who has got Ranger fans excited this coming season is former Boston University stand out Matt Gilroy. Even after just two preseason games fans of the New York Rangers are just drooling over Gilroy and the skill he has shown. Just watch his goal from the preseason game against New Jersey on Wednesday night. Click here and go to about the 30 second mark.
Gilroy displayed his offensive abilities by blazing by the two New Jersey defensemen and then faking goaltender Yann Danis out. Seeing the play develop you just knew this kid was going to put that puck in the net somehow. He managed to score in the shootout as well putting the puck under the left pad of Danis before the Devils won the shootout.
However there is something else much more important. Being a defenseman Gilroy's first responsibility is to stop the opposition from scoring. Duh right? An unfortunate trend among hockey players is the fact that offensive defenseman are usually not great in their own end. Whether you want to look as far as Mike Green of the Washington Capitals or right to the Rangers and Wade Redden, examples of defensively inept defensemen are abound.
For Gilroy it is a significant change between the NHL and the NCAAs. The speed of the game has increased almost exponentially as well as the skill of the players. But watching Gilroy the first few games he understands his defensive responsibilities. He pinches as much as possible and is aggressive on the puck but also knows when pinching is the wrong choice. He back-checks very well which is no doubt helped by his skating abilities.
Unlike his counterpart Michal Rozsival, who was the main cause of the two goals scored by the New Jersey Devils last night, Gilroy has been sound all over the ice. He does need to improve in his end but that will happen as he understands the NHL and the defensive system that John Tortorella wants to employ. While I am usually a pretty skeptical person, especially since I am a Ranger fan, I cannot help but be a little bit excited seeing Gilroy play this well.
I always loved the original # 97 Jeremy Roenick. But Matt Gilroy is making me like the number 97 for a different reason. Lets hope it continues.