NY Rangers Take First Preseason Game As Newcomers Shine

The New York Rangers won their first pre-season game last night in a 4-1 rout of the Islanders. From the first period on, the Isles were not really in the game–the Blueshirts ran off three straight goals and Igor Shesterkin stopped nine straight shots. And it never got better for the Isles. 

Last night Shesterkin looked like he had not skipped a beat since his Vezina Trophy winning performance last season, facing fourteen shots in 31:41 minutes of play. And not giving up any goals whatsoever. He was replaced by rookie netminder, Dylan Garand, who less than four minutes later gave up a goal he should have stopped. In fact, Garand looked a bit overwhelmed in net during his entire 28 plus minutes between the pipes, but he managed to stop nine of ten shots. A high end prospect, Garand is expected to work on his game in Hartford this season. Whether Garand will be NHL-ready after Jaroslav Halak’s contract runs out after this season remains to be seen, but it certainly is not out of the question. 

In addition to Shesterkin continuing his winning ways, Chris Kreider showed that last season was not a one off for him either. He went to the net and used his great hands to pop in the game winner in the first period last night. Kreider looked really good and ready to continue right where he left off in the playoffs last spring. 

One rookie who made an incredibly positive impression last night, and in training camp, was Brennan Othmann. Although he played only 14:37 in the game, Othmann had two assists, was playing physical hockey, was excellent along the boards, and did not miss a shift after being hammered into the boards and suffering a bloody nose. Playing with a piece of tissue in his nose for his next few shifts, Othmann is a rookie that has raised his chances of being in a Rangers uniform for opening night and beyond with each time he skates.

It’s hard not to be rooting for rookie winger Bobby Trivigno, who was very noticiable in his 11:07 minutes last night. A diminutive crash and burn player, he wasn’t always doing positive things, but he plays incredibly hard and he has been a Rangers fan since birth. A longshot to make the fourth line, Trivigno will play again tonight. But he is likely to be sent to Hartford to start the season.

Jimmy Vesey, Jimmy Vesey. Now in his second stint as a Ranger, Vesey is in camp on a PTO. Originally drafted by Nashville, after four years at Harvard, the highly talented Vesey chose New York. What made Vesey so great in college is that he played around the net. Going to the net was his game; it still is. But when he got to New York the first time, in 2016, he either forgot that or he was asked to play another role–it is not clear which. But, whosever choice it was to have Vesey so much besides play around the net, or go directly to the net (do not pass go, do not collect $200), it was a huge mistake. Now, six seasons and four teams later, Vesey has another chance in New York. And, if he plays anything like he did last night, he will be signed to a contract. He scored the first goal on a somewhat flukey, off the mask, shot, but what was not flukey was that he was around the net. Vesey used his body well, he hit, blocked shots, and did an excellent job on the PK (he was on the ice when K’Andre Miller scored a shortie in the first period). Listening to him over the years, it is clear that Vesey has grown up a lot–no longer the kid who everyone wanted out of college, at age 29, he is a more hungry player. He will get another chance tonight in Boston to play his game. If he keeps doing it, he will be a welcome re-addition to the Blueshirts opening night lineup.

That brings us to Zac Jones, who under league rules is actually not considered a rookie, but he has yet to be consistently in a a Ranger uniform since leaving college two seasons ago. Jones scored a goal last night while paired with Braden Schneider (who plays like a veteran, even though he is only in his second season) and played fairly well. After playing fairly well in Hartford last season (the numbers do not reflect his inabilities in his own end), the Rangers are hoping Jones to be the third pairing defenseman with Schneider during the regular season. His offensive prowess is not in question, but his size and his defense is. The Rangers have previously had blueliners who they knew were not the best in their own end but contributed to the offense to offset it (e.g., Tony DeAngelo), but generally those teams do not win Stanley Cups. It remains to be seen if the Rangers can go to the end of the playoffs with two sub 6 foot blueliners or whether they will try. Either way, a decision has to be made soon about Jones, who wants to play at this level and whose value drops if he does not do so this season.

Lastly for today, there is 2022 draftee Adam Sykora. The second-round dynamo made quite a few mistakes last night, but he is an 18 year old, playing against NHL competition. And a young 18 at that. It is a just a glimpse of the smallish, high tempo, gritty forward, but it is intriguing to say the least. He needs a couple more seasons of play to be NHL-ready but he will be fun to watch when he is 20 to 21. UPDATE: THIS AFTERNOON SYKORA WAS ASSIGNED TO NITRA, WHICH WAS AN EXPECTED MOVE. 

On the ice in Boston tonight will be:

Goal: Halak, Domingue

Defense: Fox, Lindgren, Robertson, Skinner, Tinordi, Emberson

Forwards: Gauthier, Lafreniere, Rydahl, Trocheck, Carpenter, Vesey, Elson, Hunt, Trivigno, Cuylle, Kravtsov, Brodzinski











About the Author

Leslie Treff

Leslie Treff is a contributor for NY Sports Day, covering NY NHL teams. She has been covering the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils for more than 15 seasons. Leslie is a recognized expert in hockey prospects and has served as a scout for several independent agencies. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, in her former life, Leslie was an attorney in the judiciary in New York City.

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