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Rangers End Traverse City with Loss to Stars

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NHL: Preseason-New York Islanders at New York Rangers Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

As with Monday’s game, the Rangers lost 4-1 to Dallas in a game that was much closer than the scoreline indicates; Dallas scored an empty netter and then added one more in garbage time. Here are some notes and video from the game.

Lias Andersson built off a strong third period from Monday and had his most active game of the tournament against the Stars. He seemed more confident on the puck and tried to make things happen. His best moment of the game was a two-on-one pass to Ryan Gropp, who unfortunately did not finish the pass. Here is some video of Andersson (wearing 50), including that moment.

We’re dealing with a small sample size, but that Andersson improved as the tournament went on is encouraging. If that’s a continuing trend, then it means we could see him really progress in the next three weeks before the start of the season.

Sean Day’s fearlessness was on display against Dallas, with varying results. On multiple occasions he really pushed the pace and diced through the Dallas neutral zone setup. However, an unnecessarily risky pass through the middle of the defensive zone nearly led to disaster; luckily Alexandar Georgiev made a big-time save.

This is exactly why fans should be both excited, but also cautious, when it comes to Day. He has the ability to make some tremendous plays. Hartford’s coaching staff will have an incredibly important job the next few years in continuing to encourage him to express his talent while also decreasing the number of poor decisions he sometimes makes.

Over the last two games, Neal Pionk continued to prove why so many NHL teams sought after him. In my first Traverse City game summary I highlighted his good defensive decisions. In the last two games he (wearing #44) advertised his ability on the puck.

However, I also did notice his one-on-one defending crop up as a point of weakness. At 6’0 and 190 pounds, he’s hardly a big defender. On a few occasions in the tournament, a bigger forward had enough inertia to get past Pionk and generate a scoring chance. For example, here, where 2015 first-round pick Denis Gurianov muscled past him to score Dallas’ opening goal.

This is an aspect of his game that needs work, and it will hopefully be addressed partly by adding a few pounds of muscle and partly with better education of how to use body positioning to increase leverage in these situations.

I had no intentions of discussing Zborovskiy in this post, but unfortunately he had another poor showing last night. Once again, the issue of defending onrushing forwards emerged.

The Rangers might be thinking differently, but from what I’ve seen so far one has to wonder if he goes back to the WHL for an overage year. The Rangers have a crowded defense to begin with and Brandon Crawley really impressed in Traverse City.

The lone goal the Rangers scored against Dallas came from Malte Stromwall, who had a decent game on Monday as well.

While I wouldn’t call the 2017 Traverse City Tournament a particularly memorable one for the Rangers, a number of players certainly got something out of it and management learned a little bit more about what they have in the system. Chytil’s injury was a blow, and Patrik Virta missed the tournament due to the start of the regular season in Finland. Nonetheless, it’s evident that the Rangers need to add some skilled forwards to the system. Ryan Gropp and Robin Kovacs had their moments but are big question marks as far as NHL careers are concerned. Lias Andersson is going to be a quality player, but not one who can make offense happen by himself. Beyond them, the Rangers had way too many bottom-six type prospects in nature to establish much offense in the tournament; just five goals in four games.

Though the tournament is now over, Rangers’ training camp opens up in the next couple of days, with the first preseason game following soon after. It will be fun to see which prospects continue to progress in these next few weeks.