Ranger Roulette: Laviolette’s Preseason Odyssey

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Kyle MacLean #52 of New York Islanders battles with Kaapo Kakko #24 of New York Rangers during the third period during a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on September 26, 2023 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Islanders 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Kyle MacLean #52 of New York Islanders battles with Kaapo Kakko #24 of New York Rangers during the third period during a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on September 26, 2023 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Islanders 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Buckle up, Rangers fans! Preseason drama, coach critiques, and surprise departures. The Rangers’ latest rollercoaster ride had it all.

Well, that didn’t take long. Peter Laviolette laced into his team for the first time as head coach of the New York Rangers, and it wasn’t pretty. Laviolette didn’t pull any punches after their 5-3 preseason loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday at UBS Arena, declaring their effort “unacceptable.”! He’s cracking the whip before the regular season starts on October 12th in Buffalo.

The Rangers came out flatter than a pancake for the second time in a row, and this time, it turned ugly faster than a pumpkin at midnight. They fell into a 3-0 hole in the first period and couldn’t even muster a shot on goal for what felt like an eternity in the second.

Laviolette was not amused, saying, “Our execution was way off the mark. It’s unacceptable, the first half of that game. It’s not who we are or who we want to be.” It felt like a teacher scolding the class for not doing their homework!

Coach Laviolette’s Tough Love, Roster Cuts, and Surprise Departures:

Now, Laviolette wants these Rangers to be grittier and work harder. They’re trying to balance skill with physicality. “Backchecking, finishing checks, competing for pucks – these are universal languages, no excuses,” he said.

Yet that wasn’t even the worst part. There was the trio featuring Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, and Alexis Lafrenière.
They were on the ice for all three of the Isles’ first-period goals. Panarin had more giveaways(2) than shots on goal(1) in 18:59 ice time.

Ultimately, the Rangers mounted a third-period comeback, scoring three goals in under 14 minutes. Brennan Othmann, Barclay Goodrow, and Will Cuylle helped the Blueshirts save face on the scoreboard.

It might not have been as smooth as butter, but at least they showed some life. Othmann and Cuylle have been the best players in camp, even though they’ll probably start in the AHL.

Speaking of the Hartford Wolfpack, Forwards Alex Belzile, Anton Blidh, Turner Elson, Riley Nash, and Adam Sýkora, along with defenseman Connor Mackey, were all sent packing there before Saturday’s game. And poor Jake Leschyshyn faced the dreaded waiver wire.

However, the plot twist of the night was defenseman Ty Emberson, who the San Jose Sharks claimed. It’s not what New York wanted, but that’s the risk you take when forced to host a yard sale. San Jose walked away with a prized possession. Farewell, Ty! You’re swimming with different sharks now.

The moves leave a clear favorite for the 13th forward on the team. Jonny Brodzinski. Laviolette has been singing his praises, and he’s the only one who’s played in all four preseason games.

Thus far, it’s been a rollercoaster for the Rangers in the preseason. Hopefully, they find their groove before the regular season kicks off, or Laviolette might need to break out some more stern words.