There is such a giant jump between the AHL and NHL and last night couldn’t have made that any more apparent. While the Rangers had some of their regulars in the lineup, they also had some players who won’t ever sniff regular season Garden ice. Lets break down:
Julien Gauthier is the king of driving wide around a defenseman and taking the puck hard to the net. The only problem with this is that he quite literally has zero chance of scoring because that is not a part of his skill set. He’s the type of player that if you didn’t know or had never seen before, you’d be pumped – am I right? Skates hard, finishes his checks, goes hard to the net – what’s not to love? The issue is that we’ve seen this for a while now and we know he won’t score, we know he’ll take stupid penalties and unfortunately we know he won’t carve out a long career in New York. It’d be cool if I was wrong but I’m feeling pretty right.
Alexis Lafreniere looked good again tonight. It seems like he’s really trying to control the puck and the pace in which he has it. The Kid Line had another Tampa Bay caliber shift, pinning the Devils in their own zone for what seemed like forever, with constant puck pursuit, cycling and smart decision making. Our best hope as Rangers fans is that the Kid line gains even more confidence, get third line matchups, and continue to dominate against inferior opponents. We’ll wait and see. Also, what a set of mitts. Sheeeeesh.
Chris Kreider scoring in the preseason isn’t a huge deal, but like I said before – him scoring in back to back preseason games is a lot better than him laying down a goose egg. Kreider has shown that he goes through disappearing acts but both goals were vintage Kreider goals from last year. Keep it up.
Adam Fox is very good. I’ve never seen him lose it like he did against Zetterlund and it was nice to see Fox have an edge. World class pass to Kreider, kid looks good. Let’s keep him fresh and healthy heading into this season.
Libor Hajek is bad. I don’t know what the Rangers see in him but it seems like every time he has the puck, he panics, and just throws it away. He can for sure skate and seems to have a bit more push back this year but by all accounts – woof.
Tim Gettinger seems to have been in every preseason since 2008. At some point maybe you just pull the plug? I’d love to talk to a scout to see what they see in this guy. What less can you do with that size?
Karl Henriksson is not at all who I thought he would be when the Rangers drafted him. I also don’t pretend to watch 17 year olds play 50 games in Junior or overseas like 95% of the blue checkmarks do but when he was picked all of those checkmarks said it was a good pick. This ain’t it. He seems to small and doesn’t have the speed to really carve out any NHL career.
Adam Edstrom stood out to be honest. I’d never heard of this kid until last night but he made a statement. Rex and I talk all the time about how players on the bubble should be doing whatever to stand out for those spots. We’ve heard Cuylle pretend that he was going to bring the pain but when’s the last time someone really has stood out? Now, clearly this kid won’t be on the Rangers any time soon, but at the very least I know his name now and will be watching his career moving forward. 6’8” and can skate? Sign me up.
Sammy Blais is going to be big for the Rangers this year for sure. You could tell he was happy to be back and punished any Devil he set his sights on. He’s got size, he’s not afraid, he’s got skill and he plays with a little bit of cockiness that the Rangers need. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs on the top line – if he stays there. Kreider and Zibanejad clearly have chemistry and adding another player who can hit, forecheck, show off some skill and remain defensively responsible could be dangerous for any team who plays against New York.
Mika Zibanejad played a huge role in the first goal of the game. These veteran players don’t need to play hard – preseason is for getting in a rhythm and finding pace, but when your number 1 center runs through a player on a penalty kill which forces a turnover resulting in a goal IN THE PRESEASON, that’s something that should make you happy.
Our regulars played like they should and our AHL players were mediocre at best. They play the Devils again tonight as we might see Panarins 2022-23 season debut. Theres only a few games left so guys competing better shit or get off the pot.