Lots of time in the car the last two days, driving back and forth to the MSG Training Center in Westchester County, where the Whale are deep into their preseason training camp.
The squad has been broken up into two groups, with one group practicing for about 45 minutes, then the two groups scrimmaging each other for 40 minutes, and then the second group having a practice.
I missed Sunday, which was the opening day, but caught yesterday and today at the Rangers’ practice facility, as the Whale prepare for their preseason opener Wednesday night against the Albany Devils at Champions Skating Center in Cromwell.
Not much finishing touch from either team in Monday’s scrimmage, which saw the White team score a 3-1 win over the Green squad, but much better pace and flow today, as the Green prevailed 5-4 in a shootout.
Not surprisingly, Chris Kreider stood out both days, mainly because of his speed. He scored on a penalty shot Monday (there were no power plays in the scrimmages; when a penalty was called, the fouled player was given a penalty shot, with the opposing team allowed to chase him from its own blue line), then ran down Jordie Johnston chasing on a penalty shot. Then today, he blocked a shot and then sped away to score on a breakaway.
Interestingly, I thought Scott Tanski was, aside from Kreider, the most noticeable player on the ice Monday. I say interestingly because Tanski was a late addition to the training camp roster, only invited at the last minute after another player declined his invitation, in order to stay with his Junior team.
Tanski was all over the place in Monday’s scrimmage, playing physical, looking fast and making an impact on every shift. He even showed a scoring touch, deflecting in an Andrew Courtney shot for the White’s first goal.
This is pretty much just what Tanski did last fall, when he came to camp as an unknown out of the Ontario Hockey League and ended up being one of the Whale’s best players in preseason and earning an AHL contract.
Kyle Jean also scored an impressive goal today, putting on a burst of speed to get around a defender and snapping a shot past Kyle Rank’s catching glove. Jean is 6-4, and the quickness he showed on that play is notable for a guy that big. He is also a center, which is an area of the depth chart in which the Whale are a bit thin, and that kind of size in a pivot is much-coveted. Jean netted himself an NHL contract with the Rangers after two seasons at Lake Superior State University, and a strong effort at New York’s summer prospect camp, and early returns indicate the club’s scouts may have uncovered a diamond in the rough.
Another good scouting find, Marek Hrivik, also gave a solid account of himself, scoring a late tying goal for the White today and combining with Micheal Haley (not sure which of them actually poked the puck in) to jam home the White’s third goal Monday. Hrivik scored some distinctly “sniper”-type goals during his late-season audition with the Whale in the spring, and now in camp he looks determined to show that he is willing to work to get some “greasy” ones as well.
One negative was that Kris Newbury did not skate either of the last two days. He got banged up during Sunday’s skates, but seemed confident that the injury was not serious. It would be a huge void for the Whale, to be sure, if Newbury were lost for any length of time.
Had a chance to film a couple of interviews post-practice today, with the help of our video production guru, Mark Willand. Spoke to a couple of experienced veteran additions, Micheal Haley and 2012 Calder Cup champion Brandon Segal, and those clips should be live soon.