Flyers 4, Rangers 2.
1) The sixth and final game of another too-long preseason was a pretty gentlemanly, Lady Byng type game, you know, given the two teams involved.
2) So the Rangers go into the regular season on four straight preseason losses, two of those in OT, which mean less than squat. That doesn’t mean there are no reasons for concern. The Rangers really haven’t created much offense at all these last few games. And that’s partly because they’re playing two fourth lines most nights. Still …
3) They haven’t defended poorly. But they sure weren’t great last night, with the puck or without it. And that’s popped up a few times in the last four games … against virtually NHL-caliber opponents, while the Rangers used the games to look at things and evaluate talent. Still. …
4) Henrik Lundqvist looked pretty decent most of the night, then didn’t. He was beaten short side by Nick Schultz early second, but the shot clanged the left post. Then he robbed Sean Couturier on the breakaway mid-second. I thought the fourth goal, short side, was hideous. Hung out on too many quality chances, same as last season.
5) “I think it’s always such an important part of hockey to keep the puck and when you lose it, you have to make sure you don’t lose in the wrong area because teams are too good and too fast and take advantage of it,” said Lundqvist, who admitted he needs this coming week of work before the opener. “A lot of times you do get hurt in odd-man rushes, so puck management and being smart all over the ice, especially around the blue lines, is always key I think. We talked about it throughout the game and we are going to discuss it over the next week. We have a few days here to work out a few things and really get going here and prepare for another year.”
6) Worried about the PK yet? I know, I know. No Ryan McDonagh, no Derek Stepan, no Rick Nash. Still …
7) Alain Vigneault said he wanted to see a few more things, said there were still 3-4 jobs up for grabs, said he needed to figure out the puzzle. And when I asked him if he had found any answers, he said he did, very much so, even though he politely declined to share. To me it’s still a guessing game who is the fourth-line center, and where Brady Skjei or the scratched Dylan McIlrath fit, if anywhere. AV thought they might be at 24-25 players come Monday. I think rosters have to be in, and they have to be cap compliant, by Tuesday.
8) Skjei’s previous game in Brooklyn was better than the previous two. This one was more solid, I thought. If he stays and plays, the Rangers are better off, even if it takes him a while to get his game in order. Especially if Nick Holden is going to play the right side.
9) McIlrath? If he’s going to be No. 7 or No. 8, it might be time to cut ties and trade the likeable young man, who has worked his butt off to get where he is, but apparently isn’t going to ever be a regular here. He has to go through waivers to go to Hartford, so they probably need to hang onto him until they can make a deal, or unless some righties get hurt or play horribly. And you know who I’m talking about.
10) So the Rangers are going to do a team-building thing this weekend in New York City. Speaking of which, is it me, or are more and more places closed by 11 p.m. in the City That Never Sleeps?
11) They are going to do stuff with police and firemen. They are going to train with the NYPD Friday and talk about teamwork and communication, with the detective who defused the bomb on 27th Street a few weeks ago. On Saturday they are going to visit the World Trade Center site and museum. They will meet the police chief and also with the son of a 9/11 first responder. Awesome stuff, especially for the young guys. I mean, if you’re 23, you were eight in 2001. This should be a real eye-opener.
12) “All these next days in my estimation are very well planned,” Vigneault said. “We don’t really get an opportunity to really go out in New York that much and learn about the people, learn about the city, learn about the NYPD that we respect a lot. So I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve been talking about this to our team for a couple of days now and they’re really excited about having that opportunity.”
13) Was good that Boo Nieves got into a game after his “upper body Injury” in Traverse City last month. In the final minute of the first, he deferred to Marc Staal on the 2-on-1. Looked nervous, whiffed on the pass and got it back and almost scored. Gotta like this kid’s potential, his size and the way everybody has talked about his dramatically improved skating. They are thinking of sending him to Hartford for a couple of games this weekend, since he hasn’t played, but he could come back, it sounds like. I think he will wear as Rangers jersey at some point soon.
14) Josh Jooris. I imagine it’s possible a guy can play fewer than four periods in the preseason and still win the fourth-line center job, right? Thought some of his work on the PK was lacking.
15) Jimmy Vesey won the Lars-Erik Sjoberg award, named for the late Rangers European scout and former star WHA defenseman (he played with Bobby Hull, Ulf Nilsson, Anders Hedberg in Winnipeg). I don’t think Vesey stood out far and above all the other rookies the way Oscar Lindberg did last year. But you can see, easily, this kid’s got a chance to be something special.
16) Though his line (with Nathan Gerbe in an experimental role on the wing) had a really rough night. Vesey’s buddy and center Kevin Hayes had a dreadful night with the puck … and in the last two games he’s 2-21 on 23 faceoffs. AV said he thought that line’s issues were “a gas in the tank” problem (each of them had played four of six preseason games). But Vigneault added, “In Jimmy’s case … other than tonight I’ve really liked how he’s played throughout training camp.”
17) J.T. Miller’s gotten a fair amount of PK work and has looked darn good doing it at times – very aggressively – except when he gave the Flyers a 5-on-3 Monday. They cashed both ends. Not sure that we will see him here when the games count.
18) Onto some good news for you and ya boys: Pavel Buchnevich tipped Dan Girardi’s shot, after good play by Chris Kreider at the blue line for his first goal and you could tell it meant a lot to him. Kreider didn’t get an assist because he gave it to Mike Zibanejad, who dropped it to Girardi. Buchnevich got an assist on Kreider’s goal in the second. Didn’t take any guff from the Flyers, and drew the penalty in the third period, then nearly tied the game on the power play.
19) Kreider, who’s been a force this preseason, just ran over Schultz from behind to take the puck on the power play later in the first. In the second he flew past Schultz to score on a wrister, and took Schultz’s stick to the chin as he did. Kreider’s been a beast this preseason, and throughout camp.
20) Kreider gave Teflon Radko Gudas a rough ride late in the second. In the third, when Gudas joined a pileup on Buchnevich, Kreider came in and horse-collared him. Then he skated away from the linesmen to invite Gudas to fight. Once the linesmen got between them, Gudas bravely dropped his gloves. So at least we know they can come off. I thought they were glued on. Kreider tried to get at Gudas again during the TV timeout late in the third. Good for him. Gudas looked like he was going to steamroll Zibanejad near the blue line and pulled up. Interesting. Gudas concussed Zibanejad for his only suspension, last season. Later Miller and Jooris took runs at Gudas. Both missed.
21) Adam Clendening didn’t look nearly as comfortable on the left as Holden has on the right, but I think he got better as the game went on. … Liked it when he took the textbook interference penalty against Dale Weise, then looked at the ref wide-eyed and said, “Me?” LOL. I think it was his giveaway that led to the 3-on-1 in the second, then he performed the rare successful snow angel to smother Simmonds’ pass. There is one play where it’s beneficial to play your off-side — when you carry the puck behind the net on your forehand and can get it off the glass and out of the zone much more easily. Clendening did that a couple of times. He also went for the long change that resulted in the Couturier breakaway.
22) Of course, after the Kreider goal, the lead doesn’t last long. A non-play by Brandon Pirri in the slot, and Staal unable to tie up his man, Mark Streit, driving to the net. Pirri later overskated a puck and lost it right in front of his own net. He’s going to have to score a ton if he makes plays like that. But I think as of right now, he’s Prucha’d on opening night while Buchnevich plays in the top nine.
23) Girardi had a pair of assists and nearly had a third when, after he took an icing, he made a three-line pass to Miller, who set up Jooris for a redirection that Michal Neuvirth stopped. On the tying goal, just after a Flyers power play, Girardi actually tied up his man, but Jesper Fast and Kevin Klein let Couturier sneak down the slot to redirect Streit’s pass.
25) The Empire State Building was not lit up in orange and black after the game. I checked.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Chris Kreider.
2. Pavel Buchnevich.
3. Mika Zibanejad.
Photos by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images.
From the NYR:
JIMMY VESEY NAMED WINNER OF 2016 LARS-ERIK SJOBERG AWARD
Award given to top rookie in Training Camp
NEW YORK, October 6, 2016 – The New York Rangers announced today that Jimmy Vesey has been named this year’s winner of the Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award, which is given annually to the top Rangers rookie in Training Camp as selected by the media.
Entering Thursday’s contest, Vesey, 23, has registered one goal and has recorded seven shots on goal in three preseason games this year. In addition, he has drawn five penalties in the three games he has played.
The 6-3, 207-pounder represented the Rangers at the 2016 Traverse City Tournament, registering five goals and two assists for seven points in four games. Vesey led all skaters in the tournament in goals and shots on goal (20), and he tied for first among all skaters in the tournament in points. Vesey’s five goals were tied for the most any player has registered in one year during the Traverse City Tournament since 2007, and his seven points were tied for the most any Ranger has posted in one year in the Traverse City Tournament.
Vesey, who was signed by the Rangers as a free agent on August 19, 2016, skated in 33 games with Harvard University last season, registering 24 goals and 22 assists for 46 points, along with a plus-11 rating and six penalty minutes. He won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in collegiate hockey in 2015-16, becoming the fourth player in Harvard’s history to win the award. Vesey ranked fourth in the NCAA in goals per game (0.73), tied for seventh in goals, and ranked eighth in points per game (1.39) in 2015-16. Vesey recorded 56 goals over his final two seasons of collegiate hockey (2014-15 and 2015-16), leading the NCAA in goals over the span.
The Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award, which was first presented in 1988, honors the memory of Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who was the Rangers chief European scout for eight years. During his tenure with the Blueshirts, Sjoberg played a prominent role in the team’s decision to draft Europeans such as Tomas Sandstrom, Jan Erixon, and Ulf Dahlen. Prior to joining the Rangers as a scout, Sjoberg played five seasons with the Winnipeg Jets during their time in the World Hockey Association (WHA), and he also skated with Winnipeg in its inaugural NHL season in 1979-80.
LARS-ERIK SJOBERG AWARD WINNERS
1988 Mike Richter
1989 Troy Mallette
1990 Steven Rice
1991 Tony Amonte
1992 Peter Andersson
1993 Mattias Norstrom
1994 Mattias Norstrom
1995 Niklas Sundstrom
1996 Eric Cairns
1997 Marc Savard
1998 Manny Malhotra
1999 Kim Johnsson
2000 Filip Novak
2001 Dan Blackburn
2002 Jamie Lundmark
2003 Dominic Moore
2005 Henrik Lundqvist
2006 Nigel Dawes and Brandon Dubinsky
2007 Marc Staal
2008 Lauri Korpikoski
2009 Matt Gilroy
2010 Derek Stepan
2011 Carl Hagelin
2013 Jesper Fast
2014 Anthony Duclair
2015 Oscar Lindberg
2016 Jimmy Vesey