What to look for in tonight’s Rangers/Islanders game

4:13PM: David Quinn said on Tuesday (NYR):

  • What are you looking to see tonight, “the number one thing is giving up less chances off the rush. Puck management has been our number one problem, the odd-man rushes we’ve given up have been alarming and a lot of it has had to do with turnovers. We need to do a better job understanding when to make a play and when to get it behind people. We worked on that yesterday and hopefully that changes tonight.”
  • On the skill sets of Chytil, Andersson, Howden, “all three are different players. Howden is probably a more well-rounded player, he plays all-three zones, he has some skill. Lias is in that mold as well but I think he’s more of a hard working player that has some skill to complements that. Fil is probably gifted more offensively and he’s working towards being a more well-rounded player.”
  • On where Strome fits, “I think that will be determined by the makeup of our roster. He played both for us last year and I don’t think he has much issue switching from center to wing or wing to center.”
  • On Morrow and Smith, “these two guys have played a lot of hockey at this level so we have a pretty good idea of what both are capable of doing. Smitty has played an awful lot of NHL hockey and Morrow has played enough NHL hockey.”
  • On expectations, “Internally our expectations are higher than last year, we certainly think we can compete for a playoff spot. We want to keep getting better daily, we feel that moving forward we are going to continue to move forward whereas last year there was also the situation we were in where we were putting ourselves in a position to start what we said we were going to start a year ago last February. We are fully onboard with moving forward and our expectations will incrementally get higher.”
  • On versatility and making the team, “it never hurts when a guy can play multiple positions.”

3:30PM: The Rangers will play their fourth preseason game tonight with lines and a lineup of:

  • Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich
  • Vitali Kravtsov, Brett Howden, Kaapo Kakko
  • Brendan Lemieux, Ryan Strome, Jesper Fast
  • Micheal Haley, Lias Andersson, Danny O’Regan
    • Defense
  • Marc Staal, Adam Fox
  • Brady Skjei, Jacob Trouba
  • Brendan Smith, Joe Morrow
    • Henrik Lundqvist
    • Alex Georgiev

Lundqvist and Georgiev are both expected to play.





Adam Rotter: After a few less than stellar lineups on the road, the Rangers return home tonight with a forward group with likely 10 of the opening night 12, four of their six defensemen and their goalie group. It seems like forever since we’ve seen Panarin and Kakko and tonight is our first look at the opening night top line of Panarin, Zibanejad and Buchnevich. We get to see Brendan Lemieux for the first time this preseason and if he’s healthy that could spell the end for Micheal Haley’s PTO. There is clearly something the Rangers like about Haley as he’s played in all four preseason games and I wonder if the Rangers actually sign him to a contract but moreso for insurance and get him back to Hartford, where he played two seasons from 2012-2014.

It will be interesting to see how the centers are deployed tonight and if the current lines remain intact. I like the idea of Ryan Strome, as a young veteran, between the two rookies but Howden will get the start between Kakko and Kravtsov. I won’t be surprised if Howden and Strome flip at some point, or if Lias Andersson moves up from a fourth line spot.

On defense it’s really about the third pair and Brendan Smith and Joe Morrow. Morrow is a former first rounder on a PTO that can play both sides, would be cheap to sign and fill the role of Freddy Claesson for this season. Smith’s best asset is that he can play both sides on defense as well as forward. The Rangers could always put him in Hartford and call him up as needed but it seems like he is battling Morrow for the 7th defense spot and a group of Boo Nieves, Greg McKegg, Danny O’Regan (if he has a good game tonight) and Haley for the 13th forward spot. More cuts are likely coming tomorrow with Phil Di Giuseppe on waivers today as the Rangers look to cut down towards their opening night roster.