Stock Going Way Up
Anthony DeAngelo — I think it’s fair to say DeAngelo has probably been the most noticeable defenseman on the ice in both of these preseason games. (We discussed him at length after the win over the Devils here.) He led all Rangers with 23:54 last night, including a staggering 7:57 on the power play and even 3:05 on the penalty kill. It’s amazing how refreshing it is to see David Quinn actually, you know, looking at young talent and giving them a shot despite mistakes made. DeAngelo had a few giveaways that turned into small fires, but that happens when you have the puck a lot. He had five shots, two takeaways, and three blocks. I thought he was fantastic, and I think he’s taken an enormous step above Neal Pionk for that single open spot I’m projecting to be open.
Pavel Buchnevich — Another two point night, passes right on the tape of teammates, five shots, and an active night all around. He played just 15:13, but I have a feeling that was more the result of this being his second game and Quinn didn’t need to see him as much than anything else. Four points in two preseason games. And it has to be said:
I am so ready for Buchnevich this year.— Joe Fortunato (@JoeFortunatoBSB) September 20, 2018
Brendan Smith — The final player to earn the “way up” title. I know it’s one (preseason) game, but Smith looked like the Smith of 2017. Had some snarl (actually, a lot of snarl), an assist, some great plays on both ends of the ice, and was fantastic in his own zone. Smith looked like a guy who was in shape, and who knew he needed to hit a home run this camp to make the team. And he did, at least last night.
The Rangers Being Fun Again — Check out some of these feelings I was going through during the game:
I love the Rangers having some of this old jam. Remember, toughness is great so long as it comes hand in hand with the ability to play the ol’ hockey puck— Joe Fortunato (@JoeFortunatoBSB) September 20, 2018
Amazing what happens when there’s actual life on the bench https://t.co/m1Stq0CeL5— Joe Fortunato (@JoeFortunatoBSB) September 20, 2018
NYR literally dominated this period so thoroughly that it’s hard to imagine they’re losing. What a showing the final 20 tonight— Joe Fortunato (@JoeFortunatoBSB) September 20, 2018
And most importantly:
I am not going to lie to you: This game has been more exciting than almost any regular season game since 2016.— Joe Fortunato (@JoeFortunatoBSB) September 20, 2018
The Rangers are fun again, guys. Like, actually fun. Even if they might not be good, they’re going to be fun.
David Quinn — I love this man. That is all.
Stock Going Up
Filip Chytil — I thought he fought the puck the first half of the game, but even in the struggles he was still making things happen. Even before his beautiful slash-through-the-defense goal, he drew two penalties, and always seems to make something happen when he had the puck on his stick. He was also hurt by an errant puck and we all panicked. Looked like he was just stung by it, though, as he finished the game strong. Whew.
Matt Beleskey — Scored a goal and was otherwise not all that noticeable, which for him I think is a positive. Beleskey isn’t playing to make the team as an outright impact player, or even a top-nine guy, but a fourth-liner. And last night, he showed he can be that for the Rangers, and add a little bit of tough as well.
Ryan Spooner — The man had a goal and an assist in just 11:26! The decreased ice time was due to a precautionary yank from the game due to a hip strain. I’m here for Spooner having 40+ points by the trade deadline and fetching the Rangers a solid return. Or staying around. I actually like Spooner’s game a lot. When it’s good Spooner ...
Mika Zibanejad — I thought he was really good and really active. His assist was a little more luck than anything else (stick salute to Buchenvich tapping the miss into the net) but he was a big force all night. Also, him and Buchnevich did this and I need to know what it means and how I can be a part of it:
Stock Staying The Same
Henrik Lundqvist — Yes he had a bad night. No he’s not going into the “stock going down” because a bad 26+ minutes in September doesn’t mean anything despite all the yelling you might see on the lesser corners of social media. Of the five goals he gave up, he probably wanted at least two of them back. The others were the result of, you know, that lack of defense we’re going to keep talking about this year. By the way, Lundqvist faced 22 shots in his 26:37, while Dustin Tokarski faced just 11 shots in his 29:14, and only three in the third period. So keep that in mind when you see people comparing the two.
Vladislav Namestnikov — I thought Vlad was pretty invisible most of the night. Honestly, he’d be in the “stock going down” category, but like Lundqvist, he’s making the team out of camp regardless. He had a few moments of positive action, and was fine in his own end, but I do expect veterans like Vlad to feast on the lesser competition of these games. And he did not.
Libor Hajek — I was pleasantly surprised by Hajek on Wednesday. After a meh showing in the Traverse City Tournament (more on that here) I wasn’t sure what to expect from his first preseason game. You know what? He looked more comfortable against the better competition. He moves so well without the puck, that he’s in the right areas of the ice at the right time a lot. He played just 14:38 and have five shots on goal in that time. He took a penalty, and was somewhat at fault for a goal against, but overall he played really well. His stock is “staying the same” because he’s not making the team out of camp; not matter how much some want you to think he is.
Brady Skjei — I thought he was fine. More noticeable at some times than others, but fine overall.
Gabriel Fontaine — I was never a big Fontaine fan. I think I’m wrong. He was great last night, especially for a kid fighting for a fourth-line role this year. He might be an NHL depth player.
Stock Going Down
John Gilmour — As if it wasn’t hard enough for him with Adam McQuaid (speculatively) taking one of the open roster spots he was going to have a hard time getting in the first place, he had a ... bad ... first game. A few critical giveaways — including one that led to the dagger goal — and just a rough night overall.
Ryan Gropp — I’ve never been a big Gropp fan to start with, but the more I watch him play the more I’m convinced he’s not an everyday NHL talent. I think he has a big enough body to stick around for a few games, and a fine shot, but he’s never put it all together. He, like Gilmour, was unlucky in that some surprise returns to the team created a logjam at his position, but his showing last night was not good. Just 9:27 all said and done, the lowest TOI of any player by well over a minute.
Brett Howden — I missed the first three minutes of the game — thus did not see him lose his man on the first goal — but I sort of forgot he was playing. Which is fine. He’s in the “stock going down” simply because I think some people thought he was going to fight for a spot out of camp — which was always entirely too optimistic. I am of the mind that if he can stay up until the end of camp it’s a win, and he’s here because I’m not sure he’s done enough to avoid the next round of cuts. Again, it’s one preseason game, but more importantly it’s one showing from a kid we know needs some time to acclimate to this level of play.
Joey Keane — Same thing for Keane. I was a little more disappointed in Keane than I was with Howden, in that Keane looked far less ready for the big show right now. Which, I can’t stress enough, is totally fine. My quick-trigger analysis of Keane’s struggles Wednesday night was that he had a round time transitioning to the timing of the NHL. That extra second he has in the OHL isn’t there now, and guys pounced on him as he waited out his options. He’ll figure it out, just not this year. Would not be surprised to see him in the next round of cuts.
Update: 9:29 A.M.
Not at all a surprise given the reasons pointed out above. And then there were 44.