New York dropped their home opening preseason game 6-4 to the Flyers last night, and once again their defense looked like it needed work. The Flyers scored five goals on Henrik Lundqvist before he was pulled at the 26:37 mark.
The switch to zone coverage rather than the man to man that former head coach Alain Vigneault promoted is likely part of the stoy, as is the number of bubble players and rookies in the line-up. Whether they will be able to get things in order before the season opener in two weeks time, remains to be seen.
With just over seven minutes gone, the Rangers were already down 2-0, but did manage to right the ship a little, finishing the first period down 3-2. Matt Beleskey scored after Brendan Smith - who had a noticable game - picked off a puck in the neutral zone and fed Beleskey for the wrist shot that beat Brian Elliott high to the glove side.
The Flyers regained the two-goal lead five and a half minutes later on Oskar Lindblom's second goal of the night, and third from the line that included Scott Laughton and Corban Knight, the other Flyers scorer.
Ryan Spooner scored an unassisted power play goal with less than 40 seconds remaining, picking off an errant clearing attempt and scoring from a similar position to Beleskey's goal. The Rangers helped make the goal happen, with Vinni Lettieri in particularly helping to force the turnover.
Two power play goals by the Flyers within the first six minutes of the second were split by a similar man advantage score by Pavel Buchnevich to leave the score 5-3 and lead to the exit of Lunqvist from the game, with a total of 17 saves on 22 shots.
Dustin Tokarski saw his first action of the preseason, and looked very comfortable in stopping 10 of the 11 shots that he faced for the remainder of the game. The Flyers play dropped off a little, allowing the Rangers back into the game, with the majority of the second half going the home team's way.
An individual effort by Filip Chytil in the third pulled the Rangers within one, but a late goal by Mikhail Vorobyov of the Flyers all but ended any thought of a comeback. Late penalties by the Flyers which saw the Rangers have a 6 on 4 advantage for 3:34 as well as 6 on 3 for 26 seconds, resulted in no scores, and the game wrapped upw ith the Blueshirts having to defend their open net.
Of the players who are battling for a roster slot, Libor Hajek looked poised, and capable at both ends. Filip Chytil started slowly, but really started to show his speed and stick handling as the game went on. Fellow rookie Center Brett Howden looked promising, but perhaps needs some more time to adjust to the pro game.
2018 draftee Joey Keane looked a little over matched, but will be worth keeping tabs on as his career moves forward.
Tony DeAngelo remains mostly the player you've already seen. Has some offensive ability, but takes a lot of risks both offensively and defensively, creating opportunities for the opposition. John Gilmour was steady though not particularly noticeable, but will probably have to do more to win a spot in a crowded field.
Ryan Gropp was not particularly noticeable in just under 8 minutes of ice time, and it would not surprise to see him sent down soon, perhaps confirming that the likelihood of him becoming a regular an NHLer at this point as being very unlikely.
Forward Jimmy Vesey had a very quiet game, and it's somewhat concerning given what the Rangers will need from him this year to be successful. Vladimir Namestnikov was more involved, but at this stage it looks like he may at best be a third liner. If Beleskey is competing for a spot with Cody McLeod, then he may have just edged ahead, but otherwise he probably will need to do more to make the roster if the Rangers elect to go on talent or projections.
Defender Brady Skjei looked like he was doing too much again, and tried to force the play a little too often, resulting in pressure or turnovers. This was one of the challenges he faced last year as he has been fast tracked into a leadership position.
In goal, Henrik Lundqvist let in at least two goals he'll want to have back, and did not look sharp in his positioning. By contrast, Tokarski looked like he's in a battle for the backup spot, and allowed few rebounds in the half game he played.
On an injury note, Chytil took a puck to the ribs in the third period, but remained on the bench, and after some wincing, made it back onto the ice for a regular shift. Ryan Spooner left in the second with a hip injury, coach David Quinn later saying he was held out for precautionary measures only.