Rangers Vs. Flyers: Pirri And Clendening Keep Impressing
Brandon Pirri -- He literally can't stop scoring goals. Pirri came into camp as a somewhat unknown in terms of what he could bring to the table, while also wielding an enormous chip on his shoulder to prove he had more to his game. He made me change my tune from him being the 13th forward to changing the entire structure of the team to make him fit in a matter of three days.
His goal last night was somewhat luck -- a horrible turnover behind the net put the puck right on his stick -- but that twirl and snipe was a thing of beauty. He smashed one off the post. He had another shot stopped at close range.
To say he's been the Rangers best forward is to undersell him. That's how good he's been. I don’t see a way he doesn’t make the team out of camp.
Vigneault kept citing after the game that he wants to make sure Pirri can handle work away from the puck. I can’t figure out if he’s saying that so he can keep one of his guys (you know the two) on the fourth line opening night or if he means it.
Adam Clendening -- This is slowly turning into the most interesting battle in the preseason.
Clendening has clearly outplayed Brady Skjei and Dan Girardi, while also being more noticeable than Dylan McIlrath. Ryan McDonagh looked shaky last night, and Marc Staal/Kevin Klein haven't blown the doors off the room either. Tell me why Clendening can't make the opening night roster?
The power play looked wildly better with Clendening at the point alongside Kevin Hayes and Pavel Buchnevich (who swapped between the other point and the half boards). He moves the puck effectively, joins the rush and has been fine in his own end. For what he's bringing to the table -- a sorely needed power play quarterback now that Keith Yandle is in Florida -- I don't see how he doesn't make the opening night roster.
Jimmy Vesey -- Scored his first goal off a Steve Mason miscue. He also got his face smashed into the boards on a dirty hit, got up and yelled at the Flyers bench on his way off the ice. That goal in the third period probably felt pretty good, not just because it was an NHL goal but because he had an opportunity to shove it back into the Flyers’ face.
I'm going to assume Vesey was 1000% fine since the Rangers allowed him back into a preseason game. He said after the game it was more his nose than his head, which is a good sign. I still might have kept him out as a precaution, but he did score a goal so what do I know.
Vesey continues to look like a guy who can help the Rangers right away, too. He's been active on both ends of the ice, is a far smarter player than he was given credit for and is meshing really well with Hayes and company. Oh, he looks good on the power play, too.
To clarify: There's no way he doesn't make the team.
Pavel Buchnevich -- Poor Buchnevich. He literally can't buy a goal right now.
He was thwarted on a perfect 2-on-1 shot by a spectacular Mason save. He used his unreal stick work to work his way in close and got robbed on another chance in the third period. Here’s that play:
Buchnevich is going to get a bounce soon. Has been better w/ each passing game. Good play here to start and almost finish odd-man rush. #NYR pic.twitter.com/4pMOFpQIBa— Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) October 4, 2016
Eventually he’s going to get a bounce and then I think the floodgates are going to open. I said this about Vesey, too.
His distribution network when he has the puck is almost limitless, and his passes are almost always crisp and clean. He also passes the puck to where guys are going to be rather than where they are when he starts the pass. That’s a bigger deal than you might realize.
Much like Vesey, there's no way Buchnevich doesn't make this team. He's outplayed even the higher expectations coming in, and has been so much better away from the puck than he was advertised to be. His overall polished game is a big reason why his KHL experience was so important, and now he’s showing it off.
Henrik Lundqvist — He’s ready.
Rick Nash -- He’s also ready.
Dylan McIlrath — No, this review has nothing to do with him going into the pile to find Radko Gudas and dragging him out (taking another Flyer with him) to administer punishment.
He played a solid game -- he’s gotten better and better as time has gone on — and is continuing to use his shot at every available opportunity.
Ryan Graves -- Graves isn’t making the team this year, but he’s taking enormous strides to prove that he should be in the discussion next year or even sooner. His goal was a perfect snipe — he utilized the Marek Hrivik screen well — and got the Rangers comeback started. I’m really excited to see where he goes this year.
Derek Stepan — I thought Stepan was pretty good, assisted on the Vesey goal and played alright considering it was his first work back with the Rangers. I was tempted to throw him into the staying the same category because his power play work was awful, but I think he played a good enough game overall to be here. (I’m writing this as though he’s going to read the review and care, but maybe he does, so this one is for you, Derek!)
Stock Staying The Same
Nick Holden — I wouldn’t use him on the power play much (he got almost six minutes there last night) but he was pretty good overall. His penalty kill work was better, but I don’t think Holden is going to be a major answer outside of solid defensive depth this year.
J.T. Miller -- He had a really rough showing against the Devils, which continued the first 20 minutes against the Flyers. From there, though, Miller worked his way back into normal form. (It should be noted his double minor was him hitting "rock bottom" if you will.)
His end-to-end rush, holding the puck patiently before threading a perfect pass all the way to a streaking Ryan Graves was special and the stuff we’ve come to expect from him. As much as Miller played for Team North America, he only played in a single game, so it’s not crazy to assume he’s a little rusty despite his World Cup work.
His final 40 minutes were far more encouraging.
Ryan McDonagh — Similar to Miller’s first game back, McDonagh didn’t look all that great. He was victimized by Jakub Voracek on the OT winner, and looked downright awful at the point on the power play. Chalking this one up to his first preseason game back.
Robin Kovacs — Earned an assist, but otherwise didn’t impress all that much. This isn’t a knock on him at all, it was always going to be difficult to stand out in this group, but he’s going back to Hartford soon — as he should be.
Malte Stromwall — Ditto.
Chris Summers — I’m shocked Summer survived Monday’s round of cuts. I can’t imagine he’ll stick around long today, though.
Tanner Glass — I’ve stayed away from this over the course of training camp because I really don’t think he’s going to make the team, but last night might have been his worst showing this fall.
Maxim Lapierre -- Ditto.
Radko Gudas — I’m sure the NHL Department of Player Safety will do nothing for this hit:
I mean just look at Vesey's head here. #NYR pic.twitter.com/MGqoVsNfwG— Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) October 3, 2016
Flyers’ fans defending the Gudas hit -- “He turned.” “You have to be ready.” “He’s a wuss.” The only thing Vesey did wrong on that play was to be on the ice with Gudas expecting him to play hockey instead of being a dirty player.