New York Rangers have a future leader in Morgan Barron; goal scorer in Lauri Pajuniemi

Barron and Pajuniemi looked strong in the rookie game.

By Forever Blueshirts
Lauri Pajuniemi
Pajuniemi scores in rookie game (NYR/Youtube)

The Flyers rookies jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one period of play, and the poor start eventually led to the Rangers falling 6-3.

Losing two forwards in Justin Richards (UBI) and Austin Rueschhoff (LBI) didn’t help, but it was bad penalties that did them in since Philly scored three power play goals.

One major bright spot was the Rangers first line of Morgan Barron, Will Cuylle, and Lauri Pajuniemi. They played with size, speed, and skill and it resulted in three goals, although one was disallowed.

Morgan Barron already displaying leadership qualities

Barron, 22, used all his 6-4, 220 frame to be strong on the puck. Even with the team forced to roll just three lines the majority of the game, he maintained that dominance.

He opened the scoring for the Rangers rookies early in the second period streaking down the right side and going top shelf over the glove hand. Last season, he scored 21 points in 21 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack then added a his first NHL goal in 5 games with the Rangers. There’s no doubt he has offense in his game.

“We were a little disappointed with the way things ended,” he said afterwards. “It was nice to play against people who aren’t on your team and get a feel for hockey again. I think we will be better tomorrow.”

morgan barron rangers
May 1, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Morgan Barron (47) plays the puck against New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

What also stands out for Barron are his leadership qualities on and off the ice. Before the game, he along with linemate Will Cuylle and defenseman Braden Schneider were given the A on their sweaters. In fairness, the elder statesman of this group should’ve been given the C.

Barron is no stranger to being a captain. In college, he served as a tri-captain for Cornell in 2019-20 and led the team in several categories. He was their goal and points leader and helped the team to a 23-2-4 record as they won the ECAC Regular Season Championship.

“There’s a wide range of skill sets out there, you look at the young guys who are super skilled and some guys like me who have some games under their belt that are a little older and stronger,” he said. “I definitely tried to play to that tonight and I will continue to do that in main camp. Hopefully in some of the exhibition games, it’s a good skill that I have I can use in my game.”

Lauri Pajuniemi looks like a legit goal scorer

In the second period, Lauri Pajuniemi tipped in a Barron shot that was disallowed for a high stick. That probably just made him hungrier to score as he tied the game at three by converting a Will Cuylle feed.

The Rangers 5th round draft pick from 2018 recently explained his success in Finland before coming over to camp.

“Two years ago, when I was scoring like one goal in a game, I was really happy,” he said. “But then the Rangers scout said to me that, ‘You need to have that confidence that you want more. Every night you score one goal, you need to get another,’ and I started to think like that and the goals were coming.”

That desire was on display yesterday as he looked confident shooting the puck. “If feels great, no season without scoring so it feels good,” he said of his goal.

Pajuniemi is noted for having a great release, but his disallowed goal showed hands with a tip. “First season in Liiga, I was scoring power play goals with my shot,” he explained. “In the second year, scout said to improve your game and score in different areas – and we practice that here to tip those pucks and that one went in.”

That top line will go out at it again at 5PM as they finish their home and home set with the Flyers.

NHL: Nathan MacKinnon on his diet

One of the funniest stories of the offseason was the revelation on how strict Nathan MacKinnon is with his diet. Here’ what he had to say about it. Read more.