The NHL season is coming fast, with 44 days to go. We all miss watching our favorite teams play, and I think we can all agree that life will be a heck of a lot better as soon as hockey is back. So let’s have a look at the New York Rangers Preseason schedule:
- September 22nd, at Madison Square Garden against the New Jersey Devils.
- September 26th, at the United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks.
- September 29th, at Madison Square Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers.
- September 30th, at Wells Fargo Center against the Philadelphia Flyers.
- October 3rd, at Madison Square Garden against the Chicago Blackhawks.
- October 4th, at Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils.
Six games in total, the Rangers have some work to do. I know that it’s preseason and some fans have opinions that the games don’t really matter, but in my opinion the NHL Preseason can set the tempo for the first quarter of the year. If you can win a hockey game with young players trying out for a spot on a team, you can do pretty well in the long run, knowing you have good players that are ready when they get the call. Not many of our regular season players will see much ice time during the preseason, players like Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan McDonagh, but the Rangers have a lot of players down in the minors who could be ready for their shot at NHL play.
I think the players who will have the brightest spotlights on them are Conor Allen, J.T. Miller, and Dylan McIlrath. All of those players have had some brief stints with the Rangers last year, and the best out of all of them was Miller. The 21-year-old Ohio native shows great promise with his hockey career. In 2013, Miller experienced NHL hockey for the first time. He played in 26 games for the Rangers, scoring 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 points. Last year, Miller came up from playing with the Rangers AHL farm team, the Hartford Wolfpack, and played in 30 regular season games, adding 6 points, 3 of which were goals. Also, Miller appeared in 4 playoff games for the Blueshirts, adding 2 assists. Miller is growing as a player, and this season might be his chance to prove that he belongs in the NHL.
Dylan McIlrath may also make his mark this NHL Preseason. Clocking in at 6’5″, 230 pounds, McIlrath is a huge player. His size would come in handy along the boards winning puck battles, also making big hits at the blue line, McIlrath might become a great NHL player. But I think he still needs time in the minors. Playing in 2 games for the Rangers last year, adding no points to the team, he just seemed lost at times. He has a big body and he needs to use that to his advantage. Also, he isn’t the fastest out there either. He’d be a great penalty killer as well. So I could see him being an NHL defender, but perhaps not this year.
I’d say that the defense is pretty much set in stone with Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh as the first pairing, Dan Boyle and Marc Staal as the second, and Kevin Klein and John Moore as the third. However, anything is possible and McIlrath or Allen may have worked really hard during the off-season and could leave a mark on the coaches. It’ll be a long time before we get Regular season hockey back, but we have the preseason to look forward to. I’m looking forward to seeing what we have working for us in Hartford. With young players making good decisions and smart moves, we may have some younger guys in the locker room come October.