The New York Rangers kicked off the 2017-18 National Hockey League preseason on Monday, September 18 against their rival New York Islanders at home. During the rest of the week, the Rangers would play three more games, totaling four. Their record after week one of preseason play is 2-2-0. Their two wins coming against the Islanders and New Jersey Devils and both their losses coming from the Isles and Devils as well. Week two starts up again for the Blueshirts on Monday, September 25. Here we will be reviewing the first four games of the Rangers preseason.
Review: New York Rangers Preseason Week One
There was plenty of great things that both the Rangers coaching staff and Blueshirt faithful saw throughout the first week of preseason. We got to see Kevin Shattenkirk, Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Anthony DeAngelo, as well as many others make their first appearance in a Rangers jersey. We got to see Henrik Lundqvist back in action, as well as Ondrej Pavelec, and his first play since being signed by the Rangers after spending all of his career with the Winnipeg Jets. Fans also got to witness the familiar Rangers faces skate- players like Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello, and Rick Nash.
The first thing that popped out to many fans was the emergence of the Rangers younger players. In game one of preseason play- defenseman Neal Pionk pulled off a pretty spin-o-rama move and fired the puck past Isles goaltender Eamon McAdam in overtime to seal the victory. Pionk, 22, is fighting for a permanent spot in the Rangers lineup, bringing mobility and a strong, right-handed shot. In the Rangers next game against New Jersey, the offense was present more, but for both teams.
The Rangers prevailed in a 4-3 victory with goals from Hayes, Chris Kreider, newcomer David Desharnais, and the overtime winner coming on the power-play from Chytil. In the game, Kevin Shattenkirk tallied three assists, showing his offensive prowess and play-making ability. Both Andersson and Chytil have had strong appearances thus far; both are still adapting to NHL speed and play, but they both look regular-season ready. Andersson is speedy and has a great mindset in the neutral and offensive zones while Chytil brings composure and skill.
Goaltending was solid; play from Lundqvist, Pavelec, Brandon Halverson, Alexandar Georgiev was satisfying. The most goals the Rangers let up was three in the victory over New Jersey. Aside from that, goaltending was impressive, especially from the younger goalies Halverson and Georgiev. They are getting the chance to show their worth and play at the highest level.
While there was plenty of good things in the first four preseason games, there was some not so good things. The biggest of all was the amount of offensive chances that the Rangers had that resulted in nothing but a save or a wide shot, or even a defensive breakup. While the point of preseason is to experiment with lines and to see what works and what doesn’t; expect some shuffling to be made. Of course, there will be players who are sent down to Hartford, but the Rangers need to start seeing what works now.
The Metropolitan Division is tougher and more competitive than ever this season. If the Rangers want to win and make the playoffs, they need to score. But- there is absolutely no reason to worry. The whole point of the preseason is to get ready for the year and find the best lines and pairings. Head coach Alain Vigneault is aware of the Rangers need for a sense of urgency and competitive edge this season.
“Every year, if you look at the predictions, people always have us, ‘Are they going to get in? Are they not going to get in?’ ” Vigneault said in an interview with the NY Post. “We believe we’re a good team and once we’re in, with the personnel that we have, we have as good a chance as any. Obviously, things have to fall into place and you have to play well and you have to be healthy. Every year has been different, the teams have been different, the makeup has been different,” Vigneault added. “Our style of play has changed with the personnel that we have. This year we feel that our backend is going to be able to be more mobile, be more active with the puck. So every year has been a little bit different.”
Rangers Ready for Week Two
The Rangers will wrap up the preseason starting Monday when they take on Metropolitan rival Philadelphia Flyers. Then again on Tuesday, the Rangers will play the Flyers and wrap it up, before playing the Colorado Avalanche at home on Oct. 5 to start the 2017-18 regular season. Expect the Rangers to start showing more of their line-up that we will be seeing regularly this season. This is when we will start to see how the lines play together and who will be playing together. The Flyers will prove to be a tough test to end the preseason. The Flyers always play competitive and chippy against the Rangers, so expect two great games.
Main Photo: PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 13: Antti Raanta #32 of the New York Rangers in action in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)