All he really wanted out of this show item was to come out strong. It seems that if, after fear, the Rangers have reached that goal.
Although Marc Staal, the Blueshirt with 104 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience, left the Islanders in Toronto 2-1 on Wednesday after a second period and did not return, he should be well on his way to Saturday’s game 1 against Carolina.
“It was just precautionary,” David Quinn said when asked about the issue. “[He’ll be OK.]”
Next time, of course, will be true for the Rangers, who were relatively cool in their warm-up on Wednesday, not that anyone should read too much of anything in this first game at 141 day, and one played without a fan at the stand.
The pace was reasonably good even though the best Blueshirts skills like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad often looked as if they were playing their first game in another four months. The same goes for Chris Kreider, who has not been in a competitive situation on the ice since breaking his foot in Philadelphia on February 28.
The fact is, and this is a rather than critical observation, Panarin has been quite a pedestrian since the Blueshirts officially reunited on July 13th. Assuming this is an example of a wonderful athlete who knows his body and his abilities as he builds up to Saturday, but the pretty clear guards will need their Hart Trophy finalist to hit the the ice run when the puck drops just after noon on Saturday.
Igor Shesterkin was barely tested in his preparatory work for the start of Saturday’s expected Game 1, which allowed one goal on close range Anthony Beauvillier two one-on-ones in the middle of the second period while facing a sum of seven shots at 29:15. Beauvillier’s goal, a short cider to the side of the ship, was created by a pass from Andy Greene that caught Adam Fox on the ice. The goal came on the first shot of the islands of the period.
Henrik Lundqvist, who freed Shesterkin, was excellent, beaten only by Devon Toews on his right wrist out of the rush with less than five minutes to play in the third period. This was reported ahead of the camp, during which the King was very strong.
Lundqvist started the last 127 games of the Rangers playoffs, dating back to the 2006 Game 2 of the first round against the Devils. The games during qualifying don’t count as playoff games, so the band will live, technically, even if Lundqvist is on the bench when the puck drops on Saturday.
Kaapo Kakko played with the same confidence and touch of swagger he showed during the Blueshirts ’two-week summer camp. David Quinn raised Kakko, who became a shooting player, in the second half to the south, in the second line with Panarin and Ryan Strome for a handful of shifts in the first period. The 19-year-old Finn worked well with third-line pivot Filip Chytil to create second-period chances against Semyon Varlamov.
And it was Chytil driving towards the net to bury Jesper Fast’s second shot with 3:38 remaining in the match to bring the Blueshirts to the score 2-1. The Rangers were an amazing team, with the top six sites throughout the season. If Kid Kakko and Kid Chytil can create a dangerous third line, it will certainly change the dynamic.