The New York Rangers are less than a week away from the opening night puck drop at MSG. So let’s take a look in at what is going on at training camp. The Rangers had their first intersquad full game scrimmage last night. With no preseason games, this is the closest to game action the team will have before playing the Islanders. They will have another full scrimmage on Monday night as well. The Rangers, unfortunately, did not stream the action so we are left to break it down through 10-second video posts from the team and post-practice interviews. The Rangers did post this goal highlight film so we have that.
Because you asked nicely… 😂— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 8, 2021
Every one of Thursday night’s goals: pic.twitter.com/S8mADgBNW3
I know a team that owns an entire television network couldn’t figure out how to stream for fans to watch. It’s pretty ridiculous but let’s break it down from what we can piece together.
The one player that coaches are constantly talking about is K’Andre. Here is what Coach Quinn had to say about him postgame:
Is K’Andre Miller playing his way on to the team?— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) January 8, 2021
DQ: “Yes, he is. He just moves so well and takes up so much space. He’s got such a long reach. He closes on people quickly. His puck decisions, to me, have really been the surprise – to all of us.”#NYR
In my season preview, I talked about how much I wanted to see K’Andre get a shot and it looks like I am going to get my wish. K’Andre has been paired with Brendan Smith for a majority of camp. Which would let him play with a veteran to start the season. There is another scrimmage to play coming up but all signs point to Miller out there opening night. Here are more thoughts Quinn had about the scrimmage and who played well:
Q: Who stood out to you at the scrimmage?— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 8, 2021
Coach Quinn: “There’s been a bunch of guys, but I thought Buchnevich had a real good scrimmage, and I thought K’Andre Miller was really good, too.” pic.twitter.com/mYE00bLzwt
Howden was a major question mark heading into the season and in my preview I talked about him possibly not making the team. Well with the absence of Mika Zibanejad Howden has been filling in on the top line and has been playing great. Watching the goal highlights you can see he was involved in 3 goals, scoring one. The coaches are talking very highly of him. Are we finally going to see the stud prospect we expected when he was acquired from Tampa? Here are some post scrimmage thoughts from Brett:
“We’re trying to take advantage of these scrimmages that we’re having. They’re obviously very important for us to be ready Game 1 on Opening Night.” – Brett Howden pic.twitter.com/nzaU1baBCK— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 8, 2021
Where is he? Mika has not stepped foot on the ice for training camp yet and the Rangers have been very quiet on his status.
“All indications are that he should be ready for opening night,” the coach said. “We’re expecting him back soon. I’d be a lot more worried if we were three or four days away and weren’t seeing him.”NY Post
That’s it. That is all the info the Rangers have let out. He did arrive later than the rest of the non-North American players to camp so there is a quarantine he needs to follow. But why come over so late? If you know camp starts January 4th why show up late knowing you need to quarantine. Maybe he is nursing an injury? Maybe he hurt himself in offseason training and the Rangers don’t want to expose that. Whatever the reason is as we saw last year when Mika is hot the New York Rangers are hot. In a shortened season they need their star Center there and playing at a high level from the first game.
After missing a day earlier this week with an unknown issue Libor has not had the best of camps. With K’Andre impressing every time he steps on the ice Libor really needs to jump-start his game. Looking at his recent defense pairings he’s been paired with Darren Raddysh and Tarmo Reunanen both long shots at making the team and are destined for Hartford. With Libor seeing no time with any of the Rangers veterans it shows me he isn’t in their top 8 on the depth chart. With so many young defensemen in the Rangers prospect pipeline, such as Matthew Robertson who is from reports playing well in camp, is he a trade chip? Still only 22 years old he has a long career ahead of him but if the Rangers need to make a move they have the depth behind him. If the Rangers are still uncertain about the 2nd line Center he could be a name packaged with Strome in a deal for say a Pierre-Luc Dubois.