Panarin and Kakko set to light up the Garden tonight
Artemi Panarin and Kaapo Kakko are the two offensive stars the Rangers added this past summer and they are ready to light up the Garden tonight. In the middle of these offensive juggernauts is star center and likely new captain Mika Zibanejad. Get ready for some fireworks at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
What to look for on offense
As I mentioned, all eyes will be on the top line and I fully expect an offensive show from them but eyes should also focus on Vitali Kravtsov. Tonight he is scheduled to play on the 2nd line with Chris Kreider and Lias Andersson. That is interesting because although they are the 2nd line tonight, only Kreider is going to be there when the season starts.
Andersson and Kravtsov are expected to open the season on the 3rd line and it will be nice to see if the two can exhibit some chemistry tonight. This is a big season for Andersson specifically and it would be great if he can get off to a hot start in the preseason.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is on the PP. Who will be the distributor and who’s the shooter from the left side circle. Will it be Mika feeding the Breadman or the other way around? There is just so much to look forward to tonight.
What to look for on defense
Jacob Trouba will also make his Rangers debut and it will be with his expected partner, Brady Skjei. These two should be able to click since they’ve known each other for years and played together on the US National team. Trouba will play all three zones and should see time on both the PP and PK tonight.
The most interesting pairing on defense are the kids and they’re both playing together. Adam Fox and Libor Hajek will be the 2nd pair. It should be fun to watch Fox play the role of rover while Hajek takes a more stay-at-home approach.
What to look for in goal
Alex Georgiev is getting the start and will likely be Lundqvist’s backup on opening night. The real goalie to watch this preseason is Igor Shesterkin. The heir-apparent had some rough times at Traverse City and a few crease crashes during scrimmages. He seems to still be making the adjustment to the smaller rinks and increased speed of the North American game. Who knows, maybe under the bright lights of the Garden it will bring out the beast in net we all saw in KHL highlights.