Though raw results ultimately do not matter in the preseason, a win is always nice to watch. Last night, with a more veteran group of players, the Rangers did a tremendous job executing the pace coach Peter Laviolette is expecting of them. A roaring first period is really all it took for the Rangers to secure the win. The rest of the time was just seeing how players are doing shift after shift with this new system. As with the previous recap, to breakdown this one, I will point out 3 players who stood out during the contest.
For starters, you have to go with Kaapo Kakko. Like Chytil the previous game, he was the clear-cut best player on the ice on either team. He definitely looks faster in his skating, and he got a goal 15 seconds into the game off a turnover. If last night was any indication for how Kakko’s season could go, I think we are in for something that we’ve been begging for since he was drafted second overall. Helps to have the kind of coaching staff the Rangers have in place now as well.
How about Brennan Othmann? He did not find his way onto the scoresheet, but he puts himself in a position to score regularly with his play away from the puck and ability to read the play and the ice. These things were even brought up in the broadcast as Othmann would always get to the net whenever the puck was in the offensive zone and in the cycle. When tempers started to flare, he was right in the middle of things as well. He likely starts in the AHL as an all-situations player, getting used to professional hockey. Let him cook and become the rat king we all want him to be.
Last player for me was someone who was brought in to be depth, but might be one of the better bargain bin signings in the offseason: Erik Gustafsson. I did not realize is as smooth a skater as he is. He’s always been in team situations where he’s put up great underlying stats, but to actually watch a full game and see how good he is with the puck showed what a shrewd signing he was. It’s going to be a battle to the end of preseason whether it’s him or Zac Jones in that 3rd pairing LD spot, but Gustafsson put on a good showing of poise, and puck handling whenever the puck came to him.
On just another quick note unrelated to the actual game, it’s always a joy to watch a game and be at the Garden. Soon we will be doing this for real and my optimism for this season is growing with what this coaching staff is preaching. Hope is a powerful, damn thing. See you Thursday for the matchup versus the Devils!