Rangers rookies shine in preseason loss to Devils
The Rangers officially kicked off the 2019-20 season with their first game of the preseason against their Hudson River rivals. The team from New Jersey came out victorious, but there were many bright spots for the Blueshirts.
Kaapo Kakko – You could see just what made the Finnish teenager such a hot commodity during the 2019 NHL Draft. He used his size, skill, and awareness throughout his MSG debut. Kakko tallied an assist on the first Rangers goal, a blast from Artemi Panarin, to go along with four shots on goal.
Artemi Panarin – The Russian sniper showed off his fantastic shot when he hammered the one-timer from Jacob Trouba during a second-period power play. Panarin would be forced to leave the game early with what was called a groin strain by the Rangers. We will see how long this keeps Panarin out but his first impression on the ice certainly was as advertised.
Michael Haley – Now in his second tour of duty with the Blueshirts, the veteran tough guy had himself a solid showing as well. Haley was hard on the forecheck, dropped the gloves after delivering a heavy hit to Connor Carrick in the first period, and scored a tap-in goal after some great work from Greg McKegg behind the Devils net. I don’t think Haley will be on the team’s opening night roster, but nights like this one will certainly help his chances.
Lias Andersson – Prior to tonight’s contest, reports on the Swedish forward were nothing but positive from the Rangers coaching staff. Andersson showed the MSG faithful exactly why he’s been praised by his head coach so early into training camp.
Throughout the game, Andersson used his body to protect the puck, was relentless on the forecheck, and got to the dirty areas, which is how he picked up his first goal of the preseason. Andersson cleaned up the rebound of Vitali Kravtsov’s side of the net shot from just outside the top of the crease. Andersson will be looking to take the next step in his development this year, and tonight was a good first step.
Brendan Smith – The most apparent sore spot in this one was the play of the veteran defenseman from Mimico, Ontario. Smith had the second least TOI – only trailing linemate Brandon Crawley – and he was noticeable for mostly the wrong reasons. He wasn’t able to successfully defend Maltsev after Crawley turned the puck over before the second NJ goal, and he had a giveaway as well. Smith did record five shots on net, but his defensive play is what needs to improve dramatically if he has any chance of breaking camp as a part of David Quinn’s roster.
Igor Shesterkin – The highly touted ”Czar Igor” made his MSG debut over the final 29 or so minutes of tonight’s contest and looked solid in net. Shesterkin made 12 saves on 13 shots after Alexandar Georgiev stopped just eight of the 11 shots he faced. Shesterkin made a handful of solid stops, including this one which got an ”I-GOR” chant from the MSG crowd. Shesterkin will likely start the season with Hartford, but he certainly made an excellent first impression at MSG.
Next Game: The Rangers are back in action on Friday night when they face the Devils at the Prudential Center. Puck drops at 7!
LETS GO RANGERS!!