MATT: I don't think there's any question the No. 1 star was Marc Staal, who is really starting to back up his words of being back to 100 percent. He showed it in preseason and didn't skip a beat on opening night. Playing in his first regular season game since March, Staal just played with confidence all night and looks very comfortable in Alain Vigneault's system that allows the defenseman to carry the puck up the ice and join the rush. His vision to pinch up a lane on his power play goal was very impressive, and the shot was the icing on the cake. Staal finished with a game-high 25:40 of ice time to go along with two shots — with six more attempts — three hits and a blocked shot. My second start was Mats Zuccarello, who continues to impress me game after game. He's showing major chemistry with his linemates Derick Brassard and Benoit Pouliot, and he nearled scored in the second period when his wrist shot beat Mike Smith but clanked off the post. He also played a role in that gorgeous power play rush in the first period that nearly led to a Pouliot goal. He finished with 17:41 of ice time. Third, I'll take Derick Dorsett, who continues to fill a role some feel the Rangers lack by being a sandpaper-type guy. He sticks up for his teammates, gets involved in the after-the-whistle stuff and dropped the gloves. Plus, the guy isn't scared to get involved in the play offensively.
JIM: No doubt Staal was the Rangers No. 1 star last night. At both ends of the ice he was the best Ranger on the ice. From his first shift with that prime scoring chance,to his goal, to breaking up a first period 2-on-1, tp some big-time hits along the wall, Staal really played a solid game. I agree, Matt, with Zuccarello as the No. 2 star. Though not credited with a shot on goal, he was creative offensively setting up others, and his energy was second to none out there. And of course he nearly scored what would have been a huge goal at the the time, if not for the iron behind Mike Smith. My No. 3 star for the Rangers was Brian Boyle. He won 55 percent of his faceoffs, was second on the team with three shots on goal, and was a presence out there for the Rangers all night long.