The New York Rangers concluded their first weekend of training camp and are just days away from their first preseason game. Before the weekend Coach David Quinn had a press availability and gave some hints about what is to come.
If you were expecting any revelations from Coach David Quinn, he didn’t make any headlines, but divulged enough information about what is to come for the New York Rangers to provide fodder for discussion before the games begin in earnest.
The least surprising thing that came out of the briefing was that Quinn believes the Rangers can make the playoffs and that is his desire. Of course, that was Quinn’s message throughout last season right up to the NHL Trade Deadline day.
He did confirm what everyone knows, that the Rangers biggest area that needs to be improved is in defensive zone coverage and in penalty killing. What he did say is that there should be some automatic improvement because of the familiarity of the players with the coaches and systems.
Quinns said that the team is “in a much better position to hit the ground running.” Last year they had a brand new coaching staff last season, so he maintained that the familiarity with the players this season will help their team defense and that veterans will be relied upon to correct mistakes without having to be told, now that they know what is expected of them.
The forward lines
The headline that came out of the press conference was that Pavel Buchnevich was going to get a shot at playing right wing on the top line. Quinn said “That’s one thing that I think is unique about our team…there are some moving pieces, some players who are going to have the opportunity to solidify their roles. ”
That’s when he revealed the Buchnevich information, citing his play the last two months of last season. He said that Buchnevich “deserves the opportunity” to play with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin.
He talked about the top line and the addition of Panarin. He believes that having Panarin and that line will take the pressure off the other lines. He mentioned that the Zibanejad/Kreider/Zuccarello line was the best in the NHL in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline and that took a lot of pressure off the other lines.
He said that Filip Chytil will get the opportunity to play center on the second line. Quinn said “I’d like to give these guys some stability. High end players get ion the league at a young age…all are centers for the most part…but are asked to play the wing early on and move to center later.”
He clearly includes Chytil in that group and mentioned that the young Czech has already exhibited a new attitude, that he is more mature and more confident and feels that “he belongs.” He said that Chytil turning 20 is important and that he “doesn’t necessarily have a leg up, but has a great opportunity to be the second line center.” He used a term that he mentioned often last season, that “if you want to be a great player in his league you need to have some swagger.”
When asked if Kakko or Kravtsov would have to earn a position on a top line, Quinn conceded that they have to earn their role on the team, but the fact that they have both played pro hockey gives them a “leg up.”
He said that all of the best teams roll four lines and also said that Lias Andersson and Brett Howden would definitely be playing center. He admitted that that means Ryan Strome will play the wing. He said that Strome played well on the wing, but all of the line combinations could change game to game.
He did temper all of the line discussions by point out that these roles are as of today, but over the “next few weeks, it’s all going to play out.”