Quick Hits- Rangers vs. Islanders 9/22/17 (Preseason)

Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 2-1 defeat to the Islanders in Bridgeport.


Vinni Lettieri- Solid game by the first year player out of the University of Minnesota. He scored the only goal for the Blueshirts on a 5 on 3 power play in the second period. He showed a lot of battle on the boards for a small player (5′ 10″), and made some creative plays, several times, when given a little room and a little time. His third period behind the back pass to Jimmy Vesey was perfectly accurate. He does have great hands and skill. The other parts of his game will dictate if he makes it to the NHL. With Jesper Fast set to miss several weeks in October, there is a spot open on the fourth line. And, the Rangers have one, yes one, right handed forward (Mika Zibanajad) that will make the team.

Matt Puempel- Really weak by Puempel. A young former first rounder has to look at a game like this as a chance to not only open eyes for his coaching staff, but also the rest of the league. They were playing against an Islander team that dressed exactly zero defensemen from last year. Puempel needed to get some grade A chances tonight, and did not. On paper he is supposed to be a 4th line player here. Is he satisfied with that? This was a night to shine for him and he didn’t grab the opportunity. The Rangers have to be regretting not grabbing Dan Winnick or Ryan White on a PTO, considering their lack of 4th line choices right now.

Deangelo (NYR)

Anthony DeAngelo- A positive game once again by DeAngelo. Though there is still too much passing on the power play, it’s not because of #77. He shoots when the shot is there and distributes when it isn’t. His play in his own zone in the first 2 games has been more than acceptable. He showed some team spirit in besting Casey Bailey in a first period scrap. The play we have seen so far is top 6 on opening night type of stuff. After the Rangers final preseason game on Tuesday, GM Jeff Gorton will have 8 days to make a trade or two in order to clear up the logjam on defense, maybe acquire another center, and get what he needs on the fourth line. Namely some mean streak.

Neal Pionk- When the Rangers signed the right handed Pionk last May, many well informed hockey insiders lauded the move as quite the coup. Along with DeAngelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, the Rangers added 3 right handed offensive defensemen to an already stocked left side. It’s not hard to imagine all three of those additions in their lineup at some point this year, depending on trades or injuries. Pionk has the right attitude, and knows where he needs to impress. Even his interview with John Giannone stood out. Saying ” he wants the coaches to be happy with the other parts of his game” and not just his game winning goal. Pionk again was not a problem defensively, which when you are very gifted offensively, is a compliment. He makes good decisions when on the power play. He and DeAngelo, are very alert about switching sides on the point, to change things up. And he is smart about joining the play when the opening is there. Former Ranger Matt Gilroy never got that he was better off being behind the forwards as a second wave attacker. Gilroy always wanted to be leading the rush, and Pionk gets that it is way more effective to allow the forward to gain the zone and then pick an open lane.

J.T. Miller- Not a good game by Miller. Like Puempel, he should have dominated tonight, and was way off. Yes, it’s his second game, and his timing is off, but against that group of defensemen, I expected more. Miller has great passing skills, but needs to shoot more. He wasn’t effective going to the net at all. In fact, he rarely went to the net. He finished last season AND the playoffs horribly; not scoring a goal in 12 playoff matches. J.T. needs more consistency or he will wind up on the trading block. Again, this team needs right-handed shooters up front, and they traded fan favorite Derrick Brassard for Zibanajad for that reason and cap reasons.

Filip Chytil A few comments on the rangers prized rookie: He made a great one time pass to Lettieri to set up the only goal. He got off a great shot in the third off a rush up ice, that was saved. He had some moments offensively. But, he was a big reason the Islanders broke the 1-1 tie in the second period (as was Brady Skjei). Nikolaj Kulemin had his way with him in centering a pass to an unchecked Anthony Beauvillier. Moving back and forth, Kulemin had Chytil chasing him very futilely. It was certainly a man against boy moment. He will learn from it.

Notes- Alex Berezglazov made his debut and was solid. Hayes and Vesey were ok, not as good as Wednesday night. The goaltending was great. Ondrej Pavelec was great and could not be faulted on either goal. Chris Nell, who was superb in the Traverse City tournament, was perfect in the third, and stopped a Josh Ho-Sang breakaway, confidently. The NHL seems to have relaxed the absurd faceoff violations.

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