Recap #1 of the Season: Preseason opener vs. the Islanders

September 19, 2017, by

Spoiler Alert: Not from this game

There isn’t much to say about last night’s preseason game. Maybe the Rangers wanted to temper everyone’s excitement so they could gradually build it up, or maybe it was just a preseason game. But Neal Pionk had something to say about that shortly into the 0-0 overtime.



Safe to say he won’t be cut today.

As for the game itself, it was mostly uneventful. Lias Andersson was one of the big talking points going in, but it was hard to notice him due to the 18 penalties called — yes, EIGHTEEN — over the course of the game. There were 9 on each side, which at least gives us all a good idea of how the power play will be…. wait, it’s the first preseason game, no it doesn’t.

Ultimately, it was a joy just to be watching hockey again. Hearing Sam Rosen’s voice over the familiar MSG broadcast made the humid New York weather disappear momentarily.  Mainstays Rick Nash, JT Miller and Ryan McDonagh looked like their usual selves, which is to say that the Rangers were much better when they were on the ice.  Pavel Buchnevich and Michael Grabner had some solid moments as well.

As for the new faces, Pionk stood out, along with Boo Nieves.  Vinni Lettieri certainly has some upside, and will probably get a long look from the coaches over the next two weeks.

All in all, preseason results don’t matter although beating the Islanders, especially in overtime and in spectacular fashion, is pretty sweet.

Next up, the Rangers welcome the Devils to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

"Recap #1 of the Season: Preseason opener vs. the Islanders", 5 out of 5 based on 13 ratings.
Categories : Game Wrap-ups, Preseason


  1. Richter1994 says:

    The NHL has decided to make it about the refs as opposed to the players. What an awful efn league. They’re only saved by the fact that they have the greatest sport in the world, so they can’t ef it up, even if they tried with all the lockouts and stupidity.

    So, even after one preseason game, is it pretty apparent why guys like Pionk and DeAngelo should be playing over pylons like Holden and Staal? I see that Holden is in midseason and playoff form already. Playing him over and over again will not change the results, or lack there of. Trade him for any pick that you can get. Please.

    Wasn’t it nice to see D men that can skate and actually pass the puck out of the D zone? They weren’t perfect of course but man did the Rangers fly with Pionk and DeAngelo on the ice.

    It’s not rocket science.

    • sherrane says:

      I agree Pionk and DeAngelo played well. I hope they play in at least five of the preseason games. There were too many penalties to gauge the players in my opinion. If they continue to impress, the Rangers may have three righties on D who should play regularly.

      I get the emphasis on slashing. The NHL is adopting the International approach to the stick work. But North American players tend to struggle with this because that type of play is tolerated here. I think this is a change that is better phased in over time and have the Juniors enforce the International interpretation.

      I’m struggling with DeAngelo’s penalty. I thought it was ticky-tack, but can concede that the Islander was in the process of getting off the ice and shouldn’t have received a love tap. Does that call get made in a regular season game? Was it an equalizer that was meant to appease Weight who was noticeably upset with all the slashing calls made against his team?

      • Richter1994 says:

        This is like the “obstruction” rules after the lockout. They call everything to rub it into the players’ heads.

        The problem is that the preseason is in existence to evaluate players. How can you do that having 10 minutes of 5 on 5 play?

    • Mintgecko says:

      It was blatantly obvious that Holden was getting schooled by Ponik and DeAngelo, especially after the 1st period. Remember though that Holden had to play just as much as those two did but for the PK which just exposed him even more.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Holden was dreadful. The “it’s only one game” excuse applies to young players, not vets trying to save their jobs.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          You’re observation is more than reasonable. Three things though–

          First, like him or not, Holden was the Rangers leading goal scorer among defensemen last year. That’s not nothing.

          Second, we don’t know if Holden is in fact competing for a job. We know, per AV, that Staal is. But we really don’t know how Holden is perceived by AV, Ruff and/or Gorton. If the right trade comes up, I assume they would love to deal him. But I don’t think they will just give him away. So, what is the trade market for Holden?

          Third, I don’t think you can discount the reality that veterans often have trouble gearing up for these meaningless pre-season tilts. In my experience years ago covering the Rangers and most other NY teams, veteran athletes finding camp boring. They just want to get their work in and not get hurt.

          So, I still wouldn’t draw too many conclusions about any veteran’s play in pre-season.

          • Reenavipul says:

            Holden being the leading goal scorer literally is nothing, it’s purely a function of the design of the offense(lookie, me giving a compliment to AV!). Klein did it the prior year, all of it is generated by the shot from the point coming from the off wing; either the point D being flipped or(more often) the D jumping in and crossing over to his off wide before shooting. Same deal as Pionk last night.

            What the O design gives, the player takes away in his own end.

          • Richter1994 says:

            Bro, Holden (and Staal) sucks plain and simple. Don’t try to put lipstick on a pig and try to make him pretty.

            The guy almost single handedly lost 3 playoff games for the team. This preseason game is only a continuation of the playoffs, just like having the same awful offensive line from last year for the Giants, hoping that they will be better this year. Reese will be fired for this when the time comes.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Agree on the refs Richter. I mean, I’m all in favor of trying to eliminate slashing near the hands. We want the best players to be playing after all. Still, if this is the way refs are going to be calling the games during the regular season, this will hurt the sport and be borderline unwatchable. Hopefully, there will be a middle ground where the players will adjust and be in better control of their sticks around the hands, and that the refs won’t go overboard.

      On the rest of this, I think you are getting WAY ahead of yourself. It’s one game. Against lots of minor league players. No talent evaluator is going to decide, based on one game, that untested young players are automatically the answer over veteran options. It just isn’t going to happen. Way too early to make any judgment here.

      Now, that being said, I was certainly impressed with Pionk and DeAngelo and want to see more. The guy I liked the most? Andersson. He played like a seasoned vet.

      Very encouraging signs for all three of these guys, but again, we’ve seen this song and dance before. Sometimes young players look good in an opening pre-season game and then regress. It’s not at all clear to me that any of these three are ready for the day in day out rigors of NHL play.

      • Peter says:

        I think that is what the Rangers saw in Andersson: a complete, two way player with good hands and even better hockey IQ. He is also near 6ft and 200 at almost 19 so he will fill out his frame more too. I think we are all going to like this kid a lot.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Hey bro.

        The game did become unwatchable at times. And like I said above, how do you assess players’ in a game like that?

        In stating what I said about the young players, I was really saying that you could see the difference in their speed vs. the plodding you see with guys like Holden and Staal. That should pt the young guys at the head of the table for that reason alone.

        You can teach the young guys how to play, you can’t teach the slow vets how to get faster.

  2. Mikeyyy says:

    Force = Mass x acceleration

    Fast and small is just as good as big and slow.

    • Reenavipul says:

      Not if you can’t bet around big and slow in a confined space. The fast & small has to be a standard deviation faster(and have skill to go with it) than average, otherwise you just run out of room. You then have to have the strength to power through when you run out of time & space with big & slow. Zuccarello can do it, so could St. Louis for a long time. Deshatnais used to be able to do it, will see if he still can.

    • Richter1994 says:

      Add Zuc to your example.

  3. amy says:

    it was an exciting game as pre-season games go Pionk got the game winner he will definitely open up eyes

  4. Zen says:

    Completely disagree on Nieves standing out. He basically did the opposite. I saw the speed that many talked about, but also the inability to do anything with it.

    • Richter1994 says:

      I really don’t think he’s that good at all. The hype on him is over the top and not warranted IMO.

  5. Peter says:

    Hey Dave, DeAngelo it seemed to me stood out a great deal. His speed and instincts were on display even though this was a getting to know you function with very little practice before the game. I thought the young defenseman looked good as did Andersson. It was also nice to see Nash planting himself in front of the net to show the young guys how it is done 😊

    • Mintgecko says:

      This system will protect him and his skating ability will make him a MDZ 5.0 since as long as he has the time to grow. There was a time when he muffed a shot and had to go back out of the zone which then forced him 5 ft from the net and all he had to do was make a simple turn to make a tape to tape breakout pass. Again I think the system will be so beneficial for him along with the depth that he’ll get to perform with.

    • Peter says:

      I better get my glasses checked. Second time this week I called a different author Dave😀

    • Dave says:

      His offensive instincts are very good. There’s no doubting that.

      However there was one play in the first that was odd. He was puck watching as a shot got past him and a rebound was available. Puck jumped over a stick and DeAngelo was able to recover for the clear. Sam/Joe gushed over it, but it was dumb luck for DeAngelo. Needs to cut the path to the net off for rebounds.

      • Peter says:

        Yeah he made a sloppy clear at one point too. But, he played like I remember him playing against the Rangers in the Arizona game I saw last season: jumping into the play consistently and bringing the puck up ice. If they give him a regular spot he will bring a lot of energy and speed to the defensive corps.

  6. SalMerc says:

    Game looked like a pre-season game. The calling of penalties was disturbing, but let the players understand the new rule in pre-season and maybe they won’t do it as much during the year.

    Andersson, Pionk and DeAngelo stood out to me. I also like some of the things Litteri (SP?) did.

    Goalies looked like they were in mid-season form. Lots of fast skating out of the zone. Could use a sniper, as I was not impressed with Buch’s play.

    • Reenavipul says:

      Buch spent a lot of time on the outside, that’s for sure.

      • SalMerc says:

        I think the kid is talented, but needs to learn how to get into the area between the faceoff dots in a position to shoot. He has a wicked snapshot that is lost when he doesn’t put himself in position to use it.

        Only game 1, so hopefully all of them can learn to be successful without putting their defensive responsibilities at risk.

    • Mintgecko says:

      Buch’s game is far to complex to play with Grabner as his winger and Andersson as his center. He was a huge part of all the chances on his PP unit by keeping pucks alive and doing good zone entry’s.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Buch was one of the best players on the ice. I just wish he would shoot more (a common Ranger complaint).

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          I was thinking the same thing last night. The pass happy Rangers are at it again! Drives me nuts. We still lack a true finisher. Been the same problem for years and so the singular reason we have not yet won the Cup in this era.

          I’m working on building a time machine and plan to go back to 2010 and somehow convince Sather to not draft McIlrath and get Tarasenko instead. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

          • Richter1994 says:

            Can you imagine Tarasenko on this team? wow, lol.

            And what’s funny to me is that the Rangers never shied away from drafting Russian players with potential visa issues or KHL ties. Why now?

  7. pas44 says:

    Less then 5 minutes into the first and I wanted to tell Joe Micheletti to stop talking so much!


    Don’t hit anyone anywhere with your stick, WTF!

    ok Hockey, lets all play nice now… WHAT

    • RichS says:

      SPOT on comment pas44……..incessant talking about everything and nothing rather than just call the game and comment on the play……

      Cant we do better than these two……

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        You dont like Joe…and what are you saying here….You don’t like Sam? Sam is a legend. Joe is considered one of the best color analysts in the game and there is a reason why he gets tapped to do playoff games. Next to Eddie O, he’s probably rated the second best in the game on the TV side.

      • sherrane says:

        Keep in mind they only knew a handful of players. It was preseason for them as well. I saw 95 a couple of times chasing the puck in the 1st and wished I printed the roster out because they were very slow identifying him (as well as others).

    • Mintgecko says:

      Really?? Joe M seemed depressed to me and anytime that the camera was on him it looked like he had a hard time talking or keeping a confident posture. I figured he was sad since he knows that his favorite boy toy Stepan is playing a lower class club. That and him knowing that nhe won’t be able to shovel down our throats on how Stepan was so smart and skilled made for a quiet night imo.

      • Mancunian Candidate says:

        Conspiracies, favoritism in the broadcast booth, leadership coming from Kevin Hayes–all after one preseason game! Should be quite an imaginary year!

  8. Ray says:

    We should remember though that this is a half and half game. Using Capfriendly rosters, there were 10 Islander and 7 Ranger skaters on the ice last night. And the veterans are often trying to establish their rhythm. It is good to see young players trying to impress and succeed – and it does mean something – but success on Sept 18 does not automatically say NHL-ready.

  9. Mintgecko says:

    My conspiracy is that JT made sure to have a bad game at center so he can play top 6 wing when the puck really drops in October and AV was behind it all. He played a so so type of game at best and his moments included him winning some board battles and that was basically it. It was pretty clear that both him and AV aren’t happy about this semi move back to center.

    Boo played a quietly good game last night, I hope to see him skate with Andersson and Grabner as a 4th line once the season starts up.

    Graves game changed after the 1st period, he was making some of the better outlet passes but since they weren’t flashy he gets no love from the press.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Huh? JT Miller (who I’m not exactly a fan of), had a real good game at center, especially at the faceoff dot. Granted he wasn’t playing against Tavares, but for a first time he was good.

      I think clearly, in an ideal world, the Rangers, and probably unanimously Gorton, AV and Miller, would prefer JT stay on the wing. But for the moment, it is a worthwhile and essential experiment until or unless they find another answer.

    • Jerry says:

      Hi Mint,
      I felt JT had a pretty good game at center. Granted the 71% faceoff wins had much to do with the opposing centers not all being NHL quality, but still 71% is nothing to ignore.
      I might be a bit biased, because I do like Miller, but thought he had a pretty good game at center.

  10. Leatherneck says:

    Interesting, no mention of Graves who I also thought had a stellar game… agree on all the other bullet points mentioned

    • Mintgecko says:

      I did in one of my post! Most definitely he did, all his breakout passes weren’t flashy but he had had a active stick as well. He didn’t stand out in the offensive zone like he should have but his passing and defensive play was a B+ to me.