At the start of the offseason, everyone said the Rangers window was closing. I’m guessing now, after two meaningless preseason games, it’s open again.
And why are they meaningless? Because the only thing I learned from watching the game tonight is that the Devils are bad. Honestly. Again, it’s one preseason game so I wouldn’t write them off if I was a fan of theirs but the Devils made the Rangers look good. The Rangers helped a little but it was mostly the Devils.
A couple of things I did notice:
- There’s been a lot of talk around the league about speed. In two games, it is noticeable that the Rangers have it again. You need to be able to skate to be on this roster. So hopefully Derek Stepan learned how to during the offseason.
- Many wondered about the acquisitions the Rangers made but it was clear what their focus was – penalty kill. If you could kill penalties, the Rangers were interested. So far it’s worked as the team is 11 for 11 in kills and it hasn’t all been the goalie saving them.
- Speaking of goalies, I feel fairly confident in saying Antti Raanta’s spot is secure. But if he faulters in any way, Mackenzie Skapski looks ready to take the next step.
- As for skaters, it’s been only 120 minutes but I think it’s pretty obvious Vingeault and his staff need to find a spot for Brandon Pirri. He is this years’ Stalberg who was last years’ Pouliot. And the Rangers will enjoy the motivated version of him this season and then let him get overpaid by another team next summer (hopefully with a ring added to his resume). He now has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 2 games. Will he stay on this pace? No way. But he’ll be on the ice at MSG on October 13th.
- While Pavel Buchnevich looked visibly nervous Tuesday night, the Rangers other prized rookie Jimmy Vesey did not tonight. He had a breakaway just seconds into the game and never really looked back, going to the net and making his presence known. Was it a perfect game? Of course not. But as I’ve said before, he might actually earn the spot he was guaranteed.
- On defense, I’ve been worried about Dylan McIlrath’s spot with everyone coming in plus the fact he got back to back games. But after the game, Vigneault said: “No doubt there’s been an improvement. You can tell he’s more confident in his abilities; using his long reach and strength.” Sounds like a good report from the coach to me.
- One who probably won’t be getting the same report is Chris Summers. Pretty sure his chances of making the final roster were slim to begin with and he didn’t really help himself tonight.
As for everyone else, it is really hard to judge players through a television screen during their first preseason game. I’m not sure if the Rangers plan to make more cuts before Saturday’s game but if they do, it would only be players who didn’t play in either game (other than those returning from the World Cup). Twelve more periods to go before it counts!
(Photo: Melissa Andus)