The New York Rangers kicked off training camp with a competitive scrimmage that could be seen as a sign of things to come from a team with high expectations.
With the first preseason game just four days away, New York had the opportunity to get the full training camp roster on the ice for the first time to start the 2022-23 season.
There were a few things that stood out Wednesday morning with the team’s first scrimmage, so let’s get to it.
Second Line Stands Out
Much will be made and debated about Vincent Trocheck’s skillset in comparison to players like Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp who both left in free agency. Trocheck’s work with Panarin will be a major question if the Rangers are to continue their degree of excellence in the Metro division.
On their first on-ice work together in front of reporters, the pair of Trocheck and Panarin were excellent. Numerous occasions showed Panarin found Trocheck wide open and with a relatively open shot to score.
While Trocheck wasn’t able to score on Igor Shesterkin through the first session, it was a very welcome sign to see the Panarin/Trocheck partnership start off well.
Another new add to the second line was Vitali Kravtsov. Last year’s top disgruntled play looked fine in the early sessions, but certainly looked to disappear at times with the top scorers playing with him.
Scary moment with Shesterkin
Igor Shesterkin made a number of solid saves in the scrimmage robbing Trocheck and many others throughout both sessions.
While the Vezina winner did give up a few deflection-shot goals, the scariest moment came when the scrimmage was drawing to a close. A scrum in front of the crease led to Jarred Tonardi and another player crashing into Shesterkin.
The Russian goaltender got up gingerly and slammed his stick along the boards in an early sign of frustration.
New York did not appear too worried about their goaltender, and Shesterkin did finish the scrimmage without any issues but it was a scary sight for the Rangers just an hour into the first practice.
Rangers’ prospects impress
If you’re tuckered out by all the rookie prospect updates, then you might want to skip this part. The rookie and young prospects showed out in droves in the first scrimmage.
Brennan Othmann, the team’s top ranked prospect by many analysts, scored the first goal of the first scrimmage period while reporters were just walking in.
The team’s top rookie, Adam Sykora, also got in on the action with a goal on Shesterkin and being involved in many close plays throughout. There was a touchy moment with Sykora when the rookie seemingly bumped into Shesterkin that got a loud yell from the Rangers bench. Sykora’s overaggresiveness was apparent early and often, but it’s clear the Rangers may need to dial it back when scrimmages with the starters are taking place.
Even the young Rangers goaltender prospects showed out early. After speaking days ago about wanting to face Mika Zibanejad, Dylan Garand robbed the all-star in the second session. Even Olof Lindbom was impressive later on in practice.
New York has a log-jam at goaltender and defense, but it was nice to see some of the top prospects in the Rangers system performing well early on.
First Line Scores
It’s unclear who was able to put the puck behind Jaro Halak in the scrimmage, but the first line of Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Sammy Blais got on the board towards the end of the first scrimmage.
There was some surprise that Blais was going to be working on the first line after recovering from ACL surgery, but the former St. Louis Blue looked solid in his first action back with the Rangers’ top line.
Head coach Gerard Gallant did make the note that the lines will be shifting a lot over the course of the next few weeks as he looks for the right combination, but it’s nice to see the top scoring lines doing what they need to do early for New York.
The Final Defensemen Pairing
One of the lone roster spots that will be open is the final defensive player to pair with Braden Schneider. Through the first practice on Thursday, Libor Hajek got the first crack at working with Schneider.
Again, much like with the forward line changes, there shouldn’t be much to be made about who is playing where on the first day of camp, but it’s important to note that Zac Jones, and Libor Hajek are looking to get ahead of the curve when opening day kicks off in a few weeks.
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