The Rangers are in full training camp mode and as head coach Gerard Gallant put it: “last spring is over.” Whatever the Rangers looked like this time last year is over as well as forwards Ryan Strome, Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano are no longer wearing the time honored Blueshirt sweater.
What’s going on in training camp so far?
Recently-acquired center Vincent Trocheck is immediately making an impact and seems to be perfectly suited to teaming up with Artemi Panarin on the second line. Trocheck has been outstanding on special teams throughout his career and was a stellar power play standout last year in Carolina and is expected to continue in that role with the Rangers. Fans should expect Trocheck to really develop into a top-notch player this season as he renews his past relationship Gallant (who was his head coach in his Florida Panther days.)
Gerard Gallant rant a series of scrimmages these past couple of days to basically get the Rangers in shape for the upcoming preseason games starting next week. Other line questions include who will line up with Trocheck and Panarin and who will line up with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider? The Rangers “kid line” of Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko looks to stay together and be the future of the Rangers offense. This youth movement gained valuable experience heading into the postseason last year and looks to build on that experience as a solid third line option.
The Rangers will continue to use more of a zone coverage this season and after transitioning from a man coverage to using more zone to control space, the Rangers were able to seal a playoff spot by the end of last December. Gerard Gallant looks to keep the “if it ain’t broke why fix it?” mentality this season and with an Eastern Conference finals appearance last spring, the Rangers seem to be on track to repeat this year and have an outside chance to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.
Please don’t hit the Goalie
The New York Rangers have arguably the best netminder in the NHL in the form of Igor Shesterkin and his Vezina Trophy last year speaks volumes to his value to this organization. Training camp scrimmages are designed to get players in shape and learn to work together to do one thing – get better. Overzealous young players are always trying to make a name for themselves and prove their worth in whatever circumstance they can. 2022 second round draft pick Adam Sykora may have allowed his youthful zeal to get the best of him yesterday in a scrimmage when he did the unthinkable – crash into Igor Shesterkin.
Imagine the horrors that would be reaped upon some undrafted free agent linebacker who tried to body slam Tom Brady in training camp on a Mike blitz and that’s about the same scenario as slamming hard into your franchise goalie. Yes, Sykora plead guilty to the charge of hitting the goalie and it’s been mentioned that maybe Shesterkin should wear a big red jersey out there saying “don’t touch me.” Hey, QB’s wear those in practices so why not a franchise netminder?
At any rate, Gerard Gallant repeated that the scrimmages won’t determine who gets a roster spot but the preseason games will help determine the fate of those Rangers on the bubble. It’s ok to go hard and push yourself in practice and in intra-squad scrimmages but remember, you’re playing against your own guys. Please, for goodness sakes, don’t take out the top goalie in the NHL or any other player for that matter-the Rangers need everybody healthy to start the 2022-23 season.