When it comes to the Rangers the past week, there is good news and bad news for those who have played actual games. Let’s start with the good news.
The Rangers prospects finished 4th at the annual Traverse City tournament. Is 4th great? Not exactly. But it’s better than the last place (8th) finish they had last year. Unfortunately for the young Rangers they ran into Columbus, a team that has won the past two years and was expected to finish high again this year, in the 3rd place game. The boys put on a decent showing but it wasn’t enough to finish with a win.
Prior to the third place game, the Rangers went 2-0-1 against Carolina (overtime loss), Dallas (shootout win) and Minnesota (regulation win, with winning goal coming in closing seconds). While the outcome was respectable, the one thing I noticed in the parts of games I was able to catch was that there really wasn’t any flow to any of their games. Not sure if that was a tournament-wide thing or just the Rangers.
As for personal performances:
- Jimmy Vesey stood out. Honestly, there were times he looked like a man amongst boys. Not something you would expect from a kid right out of college as usually there is at least a little bit of a learning curve. I’m going to reserve judgement until I see him against NHL players but there’s a very good chance he actually earns the roster spot he will probably be given.
- Rangers 2016 first rounder Sean Day started the tournament shaky but found his confidence as the week went on. Definitely needs some work but there is hope we see him in New York one day.
- The Swedish connection of Robin Kovacs and Malte Stromwall will be fun to watch one day. They cooled off as the tournament went on but the talent is there.
- I wish I could say I noticed Pavel Buchnevich more. It’s not that he was bad because he wasn’t. I’m just not sure if he’s ready for NHL or could use a few weeks in Hartford first. We’ll see how he does in training camp.
I wish I could comment on more players but those were the ones who stood out to me. I am looking forward to seeing them and others in camp, starting this weekend.
Now we move on to the World Cup. The three Americans on the roster haven’t had the best tournament. J.T. Miller has been the 13th forward for Team North America (no surprise) while Team USA’s Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan have already been eliminated after two games. Stepan has had a good tournament but unlike in the playoffs against the Capitals, he can’t do it all by himself. And the rest of that team just hasn’t played well. (I have a lot to say about Team USA but I’ll leave that for another time.)
For Team Europe, Mats Zuccarello has played like his usual self with a goal and two assists in two games so far. He had a beautiful stretch pass to Leon Draisaitl in overtime vs. the Czech Republic to put Europe 2-0 in the tournament (and effectively end Team USA’s tournament). As an aside, he also had a great Players Tribune article here.
And then there’s Henrik Lundqvist, who’s had an eventual tournament so far. He did not play well in pre-tournament play, missed Sweden’s first game with the flu and then came back with a 36-save shutout versus Finland. The last part is what Rangers fans want to see and hear. Here’s to hoping he keeps that up once he comes back to New York.
(Photo: Sarah Avampato)