Zac Jones, Jimmy Vesey, and Brennan Othmann make most of their opportunity vs Isles
The New York Rangers opened up their preseason schedule with a 4-1 win over their the New York Islanders.
Gerard Gallant’s lineup featured 8 regular skaters out of the 18 that suited up like Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Jacob Trouba, and K’Andre Miller. Of the remaining players, three stood out in the victory to make the most of out their opportunity.
Defenseman Zac Jones, along with forwards Jimmy Vesey and Brennan Othmann stood out in the Blueshirts first exhibition match.
Zac Jones wants to be everyday player
Zac Jones got the first crack at winning the open spot on the third d-pair alongside Braden Schneider. The 21 year-old played a rock-solid 20:33 with Schneider and recorded a goal on 4 shots, plus 2 blocks and 1 hit.
“Last year [Schneider] and I played together a decent amount in Hartford,” Jones explained. “I thought we had chemistry, moved well together, and it showed tonight.”
Jones did indeed play with Schneider in Hartford before the latter was called up and stuck with the club in January. Despite not having his preferred partner on right defense, he led all Wolf Pack defensemen with 35 points in 52 games.
While he is still competing with Libor Hajek that the 6th spot on defense, Jones understands what he needs to do to achieve his goal.
“I’ve got to keep improving and show why I can be an everyday NHLer,” Jones added. “I’ve just got to play my game and not worry about what I can’t control. Just be a smart puck-moving defenseman, flash my offense when it’s there, and be reliable on the backend.”
Jones registered two assists in 12 games for the Rangers last season and for his brief NHL career, he’s played 22 games with 6 points (all assists).
Jimmy Vesey made a strong impression
The 29 year-old forward is a camp on PTO trying to win a job and against the Islanders he put the pressure on his competition. His goal from a sharp angle on the power play got the Garden Party started and gave him an edge for the 13th forward spot.
Against the Islanders, Gallant used him in all situations. He finished with 17:07 of ice time, picking up 1 hit, 3 blocks, and 4 shots on goal along the way.
“Anytime you score it’s a good feeling but other than that me, Filip (Chytil), and Kravy (Kravtov) worked well together,” Vesey said. “I thought the penalty kill was good, so I’m happy with the effort.”
Last season, he registered 8 goals and 15 points in 68 games for the New Jersey Devils. The real key for him to make the team will be his ability to kill penalties, which he did well in his first opportunity with 1:25 of shorthanded time.
“From the first day of camp he worked hard and came here in good shape,” Gallant said after the game. “He wants to play in the NHL and he’s making people think. That’s what people like Jimmy has to do.”
The Islanders went 0 for 4 on power play in the game.
Brennan Othmann named first star
There’s been a lot of talk around the Rangers organization regrading their Brennan Othmann, the team’s first round pick in 2021.
After scoring 50 goals and 97 points in the OHL last season, the expectations for the winger only got higher. Last night, he took a big hit on his second shift from Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov that left him with a bloody nose.
It was probably the best thing for him because Othmann got into the game earning first star honors with two assists in 14:37 of ice time.
“I felt pretty good, but you still get nervous and a little starstruck,” Othmann admitted. “I spoke to [Schneider] and he told me you can’t really think about it, you just have to just play and the older guys like Kreider helped me with that.”
Unfortunately for the Rangers and Othmann, he is too young to be sent to the Hartford Wolf Pack at the age of 19. That doesn’t give the Blueshirts any flexibility and why he’ll likely head back to the OHL at some point.
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