Three of Rangers’ motivated World Cuppers return to practice

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GREENBURGH — Three of the Rangers’ five World Cup of Hockey players returned to practice Wednesday, raring to get in some preseason games, and motivated to begin a new season after last spring’s huge disappointment.

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and alternate captain Derek Stepan (from Team USA, which went 0-3) and J.T. Miller (Team North America, a 23-and-under group, that electrified the event) practiced with their teammates for the first time, but none will play Thursday against the Devils.

“I think it’s one voice from our whole group,” Stepan said. “I think everybody’s really motivated to get back at it. I watched a little bit of the game (Tuesday), and you saw some guys with some itch to get on the ice and get into some game atmosphere. Just talking with guys in the couple of days me and Mac and J.T. have been back, everybody’s ramped up, ready to go. We want to get this thing rollin’.”

Which isn’t much different than the players who have been in camp from Day 1. “Motivated” is a popular word so far.

“All three of those guys I met individually,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Very eager and energized. You’re not quite sure where players are going to be after an event like that. But I think the two Americans feel that they have something to prove, and the Young Gun that didn’t get a chance to play that much, he has something to prove also. I think that puts us in a pretty good spot.”

Vigneault said he thinks Stepan and McDonagh would play two of the last four preseason games each, and Miller would get three, but hasn’t completely mapped it out. Henrik Lundqvist is scheduled to resume practicing Saturday, and Mats Zuccarello remains in Toronto for the World Cup best-of-three final, where his Team Europe trails Canada, 1-0.

Perhaps the tournament had a bigger impact on Miller than on McDonagh or Stepan, who had played in Olympics before.

“Honestly, I had a blast,” Miller said. “Just to learn from the younger guys, and the guys my age, how they prepare and how they play at such a high level. I mean, you’re looking at the young, elite talent coming up through the league and some of the best players right now. To be around them on a day-to-day basis and make some friendships was pretty fun.

“What I was hearing, we were probably one of the most fun teams to watch there. It was fun for me to watch, especially. You get to see it first-hand and see these guys work every day in practice and see what it takes to get to their level was something pretty special.”

McDonagh said, despite the disappointing results, it was an honor and a challenge to represent the USA, and that the longer summer that came with early playoff elimination, followed by the early and serious training he had done for the World Cup will be a benefit to him this season.

But he repeated the things he said last April about the team’s commitment.

“Certainly we’re all preparing individually to be physically feeling good,” he said. “But our mental approach, too, making sure our focus is in the right place as an individual – what you need to do to bring to the team in order to have success as a group. I think that will be a big thing going forward here as camp continues and as we continue to figure out who’s on the team, is just focusing in on what you need to every day do to prepare for practice, game day, off day, and make sure you have your priorities in line to come to the rink and get better every day.

“So far the feeling is it’s really good on both sides, new guys and returning guys.”

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NOTEBOOK: Vesey to debut; Pirri gets a look at center; Rangers’ lineup for Thursday

Jimmy Vesey makes his Rangers debut Thursday, on a line with his buddy Kevin Hayes and Rick Nash. … Center Josh Jooris left Tuesday’s game in the first period with a groin injury. He remained out Wednesday and is day-to-day …

Vigneault will take a look at Brandon Pirri as a center against the Devils. “In my discussions with him (he said) he can play any position,” Vigneault said. “When I hear that from a player, it’s always a great thing. I love hearing that, that versatility …” he laughed, “as long as you can play any of those positions well.”

Lineup for Thursday’s game:
Jimmy Vesey-Kevin Hayes-Rick Nash
Nathan Gerbe-Brandon Pirri-Pavel Buchnevich
Michael Grabner-Marek Hrivik-Jesper Fast
Adam Tambellini-Max Lapierre-Nicklas Jensen
Nick Holden-Kevin Klein
Ryan Graves-Chris Summers
John Gilmour-Dylan McIlrath
Antti Raanta
Mackenzie Skapski.

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Transcripts from Wednesday interviews:

J.T. Miller:

“I’m trying to get back into it right now. I had five or six days without skating. Obviously you’d have liked go up and make more of an impact and play more minutes and really get you ready, but I only played the one game there so I’m trying to get my lungs and legs back into it.”

miller“Honestly, I had a blast. Just to learn from the younger guys, and the guys my age, how they prepare and how they play at such a high level. I mean, you’re looking at the young, elite talent coming up through the league and some of the best players right now. To be around them on a day-to-day basis and make some friendships was pretty fun.”

“What I was hearing, we were probably one of the most fun teams to watch there. It was fun for me to watch, especially. You get to see it first-hand and see these guys work every day in practice and see what it takes to get to their level was something pretty special.”

“You know, this is one of the first years I feel prepared and know what to expect and feel confident now. I feel really ready to take my game to another level. Now I know what it takes, especially away from the puck, to be elite. For a while I feel like I was just trying to prove myself offensively and when that happens you kind of get away from other parts of your game. So I’m glad I had a full season under my belt and I’m certainly looking forward to building off last year.”

“I don’t like to look at numbers too much, but there are goals. A lot of it I just said, and my issues before have been away from the puck and just establishing consistency, so if I can just do that, stay consistent and build my game every day, I think it will be a good start.”

Derek Stepan:

“It’s funny. We went from Sept. 4 all the way until we got back here on Friday. We took a couple of days, me and Mac, and it’s almost like we were both itching to get back. We came back on Monday and did a workout, and Tuesday we skated with the early morning group and today we got back in the swing of things. You feel pretty good being able to skate the last month as much as we did, but at the same time you have to be careful that you do get your rest. It was six pretty intense games and a good 25 days of intense hockey, so to get the balance of both is going to be really important for us. But I can tell you, speaking for me, Mac and J.T.’s standpoint, we were ready to get back at it right away.”

“It was a great experience. The city of Toronto, the city of Columbus, and D.C., they treated us really well. The fanbases were awesome. Unfortunately it didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but overall the experience was really good. To be on a stage like that is good for a player experience-wise.”

“It was really good hockey. I mean, it was high-(paced) fast hockey. We started against Canada and I don’t know if I ever started any season that way. You had to think and play fast, and I think if you ask the guys there they would all say they definitely benefited from all the games.”

“I think it’s one voice from our whole group. I think everybody’s really motivated to get back at it. I watched a little bit of the game (Tuesday), and you saw some guys with some itch to get on the ice and get into some game atmosphere. Just talking with guys in the couple of days me and Mac and J.T. have been back, everybody’s ramped up, ready to go. We want to get this thing rollin’.”

Ryan McDonagh:

“It’s still a good experience. Obviously the results aren’t nearly what we were expecting, what we wanted, what our goal was. But anytime you can get with a group like that, and you’re representing your country, you’re taking that experience of playing against the best players in the world. For me, I like the timing of it this year as opposed to the middle of the season, which Sochi (Olympics) was. You’ve got to really prepare your training and hope you’re peaking at that time. I felt really good on the ice personally, and obviously making it through healthy was a big thing. But personally I was strong on the ice, felt I was skating well, I felt quick and good with the puck. So from that aspect it gives me some confidence in joining the team again.”

“It was great. You’ve got to ramp up your training a little bit. Unfortunately we had a little longer summer than in years past, so I was able to have the right amount of time to get that training figured out. Anytime you can play against the best players in other countries and represent your country it’s a great honor, but it’s a huge challenge. Personally, you want to see those forwards coming down on you. Hopefully it translates well for the beginning of the season here in New York.”

“I’m still just kind of getting a glimpse of it. I watched the game (Tuesday) and you can see some of the playmaking ability that some of the guys made, and the goal scoring. I just like the fact that there’s a lot of positive energy in the rink, guys are really putting in the work, and it seems the pace is really good, even a week or so into camp. Sometimes that can fall off after the first couple of days. But it seems there’s a lot of energy, a lot of talk out there, and the guys who have been here before, a handful of years, that have to help these new faces, these new guys, get up to speed and what we’re trying to do. So far I think we’ve been accomplishing that.”

“Certainly we’re all preparing individually to be physically feeling good. But our mental approach, too, making sure our focus is in the right place as an individual – what you need to do to bring to the team in order to have success as a group. I think that will be a big thing going forward here as camp continues and as we continue to figure out who’s on the team, is just focusing in on what you need to every day do to prepare for practice, game day, off day, and make sure you have your priorities in line to come to the rink and get better every day. I think our group has some new faces where guys are just trying to get up to speed and get used to playing here. But at the same time, the guys that have been here a while have to keep reevaluating their game and looking at what they need to do to improve here. So far the feeling is it’s really good on both sides, new guys and returning guys.”

“I’d like to play. There’s still a couple weeks until the opener and it would be tough to not see game-leg stuff going that long off. I feel really good coming out of (the World Cup) and down the stretch there, as far as when the games were played, we had some practices that were a little lighter, so I didn’t feel like I was too worn out coming out of that, or two beat up, thankfully. I feel really good where my body’s at right now, and I’d like to get some games.”

“There’s some new guys too, so you want to get on the bench with them, and get in the room, and go through the routine of that stuff. There are a lot of things you want to do. I’m sure I’ll get a chance down the road.”

“I really tried to take advantage (of the long summer). Right away it’s a negative feeling with losing, but you’ve got to learn from that and move forward and I just really tried to take advantage of it. I did a lot of things to let my body heal up. It’s been a long couple of seasons there back-to-back (2013-14 and ’14-15), and a few in a row of playing deep into the playoffs. So I really tried to let my body recover, and at the same time spent a lot of time on the ice kind of working on strength and skating and a lot of time in the weight room trying to get that conditioning where I wanted to be. I feel really good about how my summer went. I spent a good amount of time on the ice, getting ready for that World Cup and I think that’s really going to help me going forward.”

Twitter: @RangersReport.

Photos by Rick Carpiniello/The Journal News.

 

 

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75 Comments

  1. Just finished reading the last post. It sounds no matter what Girardi does this year, he will be taken apart by fans.
    Last thing about last night’s game. For a preaseason game, especially between NYR and NYI, it had a little too much. as Carp likes to say, France in the Air feel to it.

  2. Carp is Cerny working the rangers beat for somebody. saw some interviews and sounded like his voice asking some questions. i think it was mcd’s and maybe stepans interviews

  3. Thanks for the updates and insights, Carp…great interviews. Personally, I think Rangers misjudged McD ‘s ability to handle captaincy at this point in his career, but it is what it is, and we’ll see how he handles it and whether he bounces back this year. Hope Step has a bounce back season…I’m hopeful and somewhat optimistic, which I rarely admit to.

  4. The only players im really interested in this game are the top line plus Buke and McIlrath – lets hope they all start as well as Zibanejad did on Tuesday

  5. Good morning, boneheads!
    Travel day for me.
    I’m interested in this game’s outcome. Anytime the play NJ, it’s fame 7 for me :-).
    Gotta go pack and shave. Can’t enter Cartagena with this face :-).

  6. Stranger Nation on

    Too bad JT didn’t get more run in WC. Good news is he scored the same amount of goals in 1 game as Larkin, Scheifele, Saad, and Couturier scored in a combined 11.
    .
    Step looked a quicker and McD was the USA’s best player in the event.
    .
    Spiro Goulakos, we hardly knew ya…

  7. come on, dudes
    at least let this year’s iteration of the team prove to us that they suck before saying that they suck…which they won’t

  8. Alex – Jim Cerny is writing for Blueshirt Bulletin. i don’t know if that is main Rangers gig or if he is supplying some stories for them.
    .
    Interesting to see that Pirri is getting a tryout at center. A fourth line of Grabner-Pirri-Fast gives the team a fourth line that can also contribute on special teams. The questions are chemistry and can Pirro keep up defensively.

  9. If pirri is 4th line centre, we are not in good shape. Might as well play zucc or msl (out of retirement) there.

  10. Pirri at pivot probably a result of Jooris injury. With Oscar out, Jooris with pulled groin which could linger, 4C becomes a huge hole now.

  11. I agree with whoever said that in a perfect world, Pirri is our 13th forward. Good guy to insert in games where we don’t have to worry about a Rinaldo running around. We haven’t had a skill guy in the utility role since Erik Christensen’s reign of terror.

    I’m fine with Dr Jooris or Hrivik centering the 4th until Lindberg comes back. Hopefully in a year or two Boo Nieves is ready to grab that role.

  12. Ah, didn’t realize Jooris had a groin strain. Yeah…that’s something that can linger. Yeah…ideally Pirri isn’t that guy, but if we’re 2-down in the injury department…whatever works.

  13. Totally forgot about Lapierre (man my game is off). If he wants to sign a 2-way, fill in, and spend the season in Hartford until someone wants to trade a 7th for him…sure, whatever.

    Maybe he can even teach Kovacs how to rat better.

  14. NJD lineup:

    Cammy-Zajac-Lappin
    Zacha-Kalinin-Bennett
    Gibbons-Fiddler-DSP
    Coleman-McLeod-Pietila
    .
    LOL! Who the puck are these people?

  15. [waiting comments from for Korect A. Mundo to tell me that my knowledge of NJD line up is beyond “knowledgeable”]

  16. Great comments from AV, nice hear from a player that they can play all positions……… but can they play them well :)
    .
    Pirri can play center or wing for the 4th line, but if he can win 50% of the faceoffs look out, he will be a huge asset on the 4th line.
    .
    It will be a fun and fast line to watch tonight.

  17. Jersey has Zajac, the Fiddler on the roof, the Bennet kid from Pittsburgh,….
    .
    ……… everyone else……. dogs breakfast of a team I tell ya.

  18. Is that OUR Gibbons on NJ? If so, can we even call Brian Gibbons “OUR” GIbbons?
    And they have the Highlander centering the 4th line, so Pirri better watch his back. There can be only one.

  19. Th Devils line up has more regulars than last night, that’s for sure. Camelari, Smith Pelley, Zajac, Bennet, Kallinin and Fiddler will all be regulars, and Zacha is there big prospect.

  20. I don’t want a competitive team, I want a dominating team. Innovative management, innovative leadership, innovative coaching, innovating play-making.

  21. Is there such a team in NHL, Coos? Maybe Coyotes’ management with their new toddler GM who assembles his team based on advanced stats.

  22. Btw, I was reading an interesting interview Pavel Bure gave to the sport-express.ru.
    Bure said that Russia should abandon large rinks and that he loves Mike Keenan’s style of coaching and that he is the best coach Bure’s ever had. He said that Keenan and him are very close friends and that Keenan would be a great coach for team Russia if given a chance. He also said that Crosby is no the best player in the world. He is among the best but not at the top. Even tho Crosby won plenty of major trophies he doesn’t stand alone as far as being the best the way Wayne Gretzky was.
    .

    Link: http://m.sport-express.ru/hockey/world-cup/reviews/pavel-bure-ot-bolshih-ploschadok-nado-otkazyvatsya-1049322/

    I am sure you guys can translate it by using Chrome browser or whatever.

  23. He didn’t say there was one player who stands above all. He said that there’s 5 or 6 players that play on the same level but he did mention the MVP of last year Patrick Kane.

  24. While I agree that the gulf between Crosby and the field is not the same as Gretzky (although the gap between him and Mario was a lot smaller than most want to admit), Crosby is still the best overall.

  25. A few things….
    I’m pretty sure av stayed a few days ago pirri was going to be top 9 or in the press box (believe he said the same for buchy at that time as well), so I wouldn’t get any hopes up for pirri on the 4th line as a regular. Not sure in the preseason you can really give lines “numbers” anyhow.

    This also shows, imho, the lack of natural centre depth in the organization. That is why you see Lapierre here on a PTO and more than likely will see him signed to a contract (whether you like him or not).

    When everyone is healthy and if no trades take place, the best scenario for a 4th line for the rangers from the current players is grabner Lapierre lindberg. It gives av his preference of two players that can take draws and it can add some points. All three players have good to very good mobility.

    The wild card is obviously Lapierre and does the coach/organization feel he can play well enough to justify a contract after going to Europe and playing for a season due to family reasons.

  26. Wicky,
    AV likes Hrivek, and has been playing him at center. LaPierre is going to have a very difficult time making the team. He is going to need more injuries, and to play better. He wa slow and ineffective Tuesday night.

  27. I always viewed Datsyuk as the perfect hockey player. Nothing better than watching him backcheck aggressively and steal the puck right out from under you.

  28. We should play a drinking game. Every time Wicky mentions Lapierre, drink a shot of vodka. I think in less than an hour we’ll be poop-faced!

  29. Some bored guy on Reddit decided to translate Finnish names into English. Some of the results below…

    Teemu Selänne = Timothy Ridge
    Jari Kurri = J. R. Skimmedmilk
    Saku Koivu = Zack Birch
    Olli Jokinen = OJ River
    Teppo Numminen = Clark Moor
    Esa Tikkanen = Dick Woodpecker
    Jere Lehtinen = Jake Leaf
    Sami Salo = Sam Deepforest
    Janne Niinimaa = John Land-Of-Bast
    Mikko Koivu = Mike Birch
    Mikael Granlund = Michael Sprucegrove (Swedish name)
    Rasmus Ristolainen = Rasmus Member-Of-The-Christophers
    Jussi Jokinen = Johnny River
    Jori Lehterä = Yogi Grove
    Teuvo Teräväinen = Ted Sharp
    Valtteri Filppula = Walter Philips
    Sami Vatanen = Sam Seine
    Lauri Korpikoski = Larry Backwater-Whitewater
    Tuomo Ruutu = Timothy Rectangle
    Jyrki Jokipakka = George Set-Of-Rivers
    Tuukka Rask = Thor Quick
    Pekka Rinne = Pete Slope
    Antti Raanta = Anthony Beach
    Patrik Laine = Patrick Wave
    Jesse Puljujärvi = Jesus Hill-In-A-Lake
    Sebastian Aho = Sebastian Glade

  30. Bdl
    Normally you and I are in agreement but I respectfully disagree with a couple of your statements…av also likes fast (you said he like hrivik) doesn’t mean he is going to play 4th line centre. Lapierre is not slow by any means. He’s not hagelin fast by any means either. He has good mobility. I understand it has been one preseason game, but sadly when you look at overall ability for a 4th line centre he is the best suited (on paper and game is not played on paper…I understand that) for that role at this point (again, I state at this point).

  31. Worth remembering what a waste of a trade it was when we got rid of Larry Backwater-Whitewater.

    I also had NO idea that Jori Lehtera was Finnish. I figured it was spelled LaTerra and he was from Hoboken or something.

  32. How come Brassard, #1C, isn’t playing tonight? And who is the guy wearing #93, Zjibgfdazbfgtwvczwkjhpgbad?

  33. Wicky,
    I would prefer LaPierre to Hrivek. Hrivek is the kind of player who s just there. Once in a while he banks the puck of the boards, or digs it out of the corner, and everybody says wow the look at Hrivek. But really he brings nothing special to the table, much like Fast. Where it gets sticky for me is Jooris, and Pirri. I know he is not your typical 4th line center, but the ability to score and play the PP makes Pirri a much more valuable player the LaPierre. Jooris, being younger, makes him someone you want to keep around. It is a real up hill battle for LaPierre. What he has going for him is that he adds something the Rangers do not currently have. That being he is a rat. Question is, do they need one?

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