The New York Rangers are back at it tomorrow night with their second preseason game, this time facing their crosstown-counterpart New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden.
Broadway’s Blueshirts took home a 1-0 OT win versus their New York-rival Islanders last night and will look to build off of that success with a different lineup, centers Lias Andersson and Andrew Desjardins being the sole players to feature in both games.
Some storylines to keep track of as the Rangers continue to evaluate their roster and prospect pool. The team did make their first round of cuts today, assigning Robin Kovacs and Adam Chapie to the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack, relieving Brenden Kotyk from his PTO and returning Tim Gettinger and Ty Ronning to their junior teams, respectively.
While it would have been nice to see Gettinger and Ronning in some NHL action, this was the likely path for both players while they still have junior eligibility.
1 – The Garden Debut: Defenseman and big-ticket free agent acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk will make his debut in a Rangers sweater tomorrow night. While he won’t skate alongside his anticipated partner in Ryan McDonagh, it will be worth watching Shattenkirk’s skillset in the transition as well as quarterback of the power play.
2 – The Center Conundrum: Head Coach Alain Vigneault appears to be giving every possible look at Andersson and Desjardins in determining whether the young rookie is capable of being an immediate NHL contributor and whether the Canadian-veteran is capable of handling the third line center role. In the first game, Andersson didn’t look out of place, but also didn’t look as if he were necessarily NHL-ready. Desjardins similarly had a decent impact, but didn’t seize the job either. This will continue to be an ongoing storyline.
3 – The Hank is Back: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will make his preseason debut tomorrow night after stellar performances by Ondrej Pavelec and Brandon Halverson in last night’s shared shutout. Questions remain of how Lundqvist has recovered from injury and whether his age and years of long playoff runs are beginning to take a toll.
4 – Stop Staal’in: With the emergence of Tony DeAngelo last night, the Rangers may have found their No. 5 defender, leaving questions as to whether the veteran Marc Staal might be left on the outside looking in. It’s more likely that Nick Holden, who didn’t do much last night to warrant any job security, is the odd man out, but No. 18 is no longer a shoe-in for the first time in his Rangers career.
5 – Rooks to Watch: Keep an eye on Ryan Gropp (LW, No. 41, 2015 NHL Entry Draft) and Adam Tambellini (C/LW, No. 65, 2013 NHL Entry Draft) as both are coming into the “put up, or shut up” time of their career. Gropp has a bit more leeway given his age, but this camp is important to see where he stands in the Rangers organization after a successful last season in juniors. Tambellini is likely destined for the AHL once again, but could play his way into a “first-call-up” position with a strong camp.
Tomorrow Night’s Projected Lineup:
30 Henrik Lundqvist
90 Alexandar Georgiev
12 Matt Puempel
13 Kevin Hayes
18 Marc Staal
20 Chris Kreider
22 Kevin Shattenkirk
25 Andrew Desjardins
26 Jimmy Vesey
36 Mats Zuccarello
42 Brendan Smith
43 Daniel Catenacci
50 Lias Andersson
51 David Desharnais
58 John Gilmour
72 Filip Chytil
74 Vince Pedrie
76 Brady Skjei
78 Ryan Gropp
82 Adam Tambellini