New York Rangers Reaction: One Line Emerges
Brad Penner, USATSI

With the preseason over, the New York Rangers’ brass have some decisions to make. Who impressed in Thursday’s game? We have you covered. 

The New York Rangers’ preseason is finally over and it’s time to bring on the games that count.

If nothing else, the Blueshirts will have some depth going into the 2016-17 regular season. Last night’s game demonstrated that there are more than a few players who could be called up to the big club if players on the A squad go cold.

How about that Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Pavel Buchnevich line? Their puck movement was solid and the three cycled well together in the offensive zone.

That very same line also tallied both of the Rangers’ goals. Here was the first by Pavel Buchnevich, who tipped in a Dan Girardi shot from the point.

Buchnevich was pretty pumped to score that goal and with good reason. The young Russian has come close on many occasions throughout the preseason but just hasn’t been able to finish.

It was also interesting to watch Kreider and Zibanejad communicating with Buchnevich on the bench, as there were a lot of hand signals being used. Hey, whatever works.

Hopefully this is beginning of some growing chemistry between these three players.

It would certainly be nice if Buchnevich’s success against the Flyers (1 goal/1 assist) will continue when the puck drops next Thursday against the New York Islanders.

The first Flyers goal, which was tallied by Mark Streit, looked like it was ripped from last season’s game tape. This time it was Josh Jooris who left Streit all alone on the weak post.
As a result of their weak defensive corps, the Rangers will need to improve on their team defense.

That statement seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget that all five of the players on the ice at the time of a goal should be evaluated for their defense, rather than just the two defensemen.

Marc Staal stayed with the puck carrier while Nick Holden had his man covered in front of the net. When this happens, the wingers must cover the slot/weak post.

When that coverage breaks down, opposing players will have their way with Henrik Lundqvist.

Speaking of the King, there wasn’t much that he could do on three out of the four goals. Outside of Travis Konecny’s goal, which should never have gone in, Lundqvist looked solid overall.

Brady Skjei is not going to make this team. It’s too bad because he looked good in the playoffs last season. Skjei is the type of player who the Rangers were probably hoping would make a significant jump this season.

Not only has that not happened, but Skjei is beginning to look like a player who out kicked his coverage last year. If this is true, he could end up being nothing more than an AHL journeyman.

It will be interesting to see what Jeff Gorton does with Michael Grabner and Boo Nieves. While I would like too see Grabner on the fourth line, I don’t think he has proved that he has much gas left in his tank. Nieves on the other hand, could be trending up at the right time.

Nieves won’t be on the opening night roster, but he will be up with the club as some point throughout the regular season.

Has anyone else noticed how Jesper Fast seems to be given a pass in terms of his play? While he has had his moments, he certainly hasn’t done anything special. I sometimes wonder why players like Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider will be endlessly criticized while Fast often goes completely unnoticed.

Like Kreider and Hayes, Fast is a player who needs to “take the next step” this season.

Be on the lookout for a complete preview of the New York Rangers 2016-17 season, which will drop on Monday morning.

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