neal pionk henrik lundqvist rangers wild

Edit: Today is Wednesday, not Thursday.

The preseason is going to be coming to a close before the weekend, and there has been a good amount of hockey to digest over the past week. We’ve seen good performances, bad performances, and perhaps most importantly, signs of a promising future on Broadway. As per usual, I have thoughts.

  • I think the Rangers go into the season with 13F/8D. The only reason why I think this is because both Tony DeAngelo and Neal Pionk have earned spots this preseason. Both have been solid and look to be taking the next step in their careers. With Brendan Smith seemingly revitalized, and Adam McQuaid/Frederik Claesson in the mix as well, it means a crowded blue line. It’s a good problem to have.

  • I’m intrigued to see where that situation goes. Injuries will have an impact at some point, so maybe all eight wind up being needed. But if the Rangers luck out and don’t have any injuries, what then? We don’t really have an answer to that right now.
  • As for the forwards, both Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil have earned spots on the club. If you assume only one of Cody McLeod or Peter Holland make the club, that puts them at 12 forwards, enough for one more. Perhaps it’s Vinni Lettieri’s to lose after a strong preseason. But what happens when Boo Nieves returns from injury? What about Matt Beleskey?
  • It’s pretty clear Alex Georgiev is going to be the backup to Henrik Lundqvist this season. He should be in line for 25-30 starts. Is there another Cam Talbot situation here?
  • Larry Brooks brought up an interesting point regarding Jesper Fast and his role in the lineup. Fast has always been thought of as a bottom-six player, but he’s steadily improved every season since his rookie year. He’s always in the right place at the right time –he was on the ice for a good majority of the playoff OT winners– and he’s never really a hindrance in driving offense or team defense. I don’t agree that he’s capable playing the top line on a regular basis, but he can certainly hold his own in a pinch.
  • More on forwards – If we assume KZB remains in tact, then we could be looking at Chytil/Hayes/Zuccarello as a second line and potentially Namestnikov/Andersson/Fast as a third line. That makes Spooner/Lettieri(?)/Vesey is the fourth line. I’m just spitballing on lines, but it’s not the combos that matter right now. That’s solid depth no matter what the combos look like.
  • David Quinn seems to be implementing a much more conservative system in the defensive zone. It’s working in spurts, but it’s going to take time to really take hold. When it’s working, the club seems to be much better at limiting quality chances. But when the players are going back to old habits –and these habits will take some time to break– then it’s tough to watch. I expect a few months of adjustment. Same goes for the PK.

The games will mean something next week, so enjoy some stress free hockey tonight and tomorrow. It won’t last long.


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