Rangers-Blackhawks Traverse City Game 1 recap and highlights

The Rangers opened up the Traverse City Tournament with a 3-2 win!

The New York Rangers opened the 2017-18 preseason by participating in the annual Traverse City Tournament in Michigan. Their first match-up came against the Chicago Blackhawks rookies. The Blueshirts scored back to back goals before the midway point of the first period on tallies by Malte Stromwall and Ryan Gropp.

The Swedish Stromwall deftly deflected a Brandon Crawley shot to make it 1-0. Then, on a rush up ice, Ty Ronning fed a speeding Gropp down the left side, who fired it home to give New York a 2-0 lead. In getting off the shot Gropp used his speed and size to ward off the Chicago defender and shield the puck, before getting off a hard and accurate shot. All that said, it was probably a shot the Chicago goalie should have stopped.

Other highlights of the period were Tim Gettinger demolished a Chicago player over the boards into the the Rangers bench. He also showed a huge presence in front of the net and great hands. Sean Day looks huge. And fast. Real fast. He made a bad decision trying to rush the puck, and was stripped at center ice. As the Chicago player came streaking in, Brandon Crawley fell over his own feet. Leaving goalie Chris Neil to face a clean breakaway. Alas, Sean Day was a blur coming back and stripping the puck before a shot got off. Day has some improving to do on rushing the puck, and decision making, but his skills and size are awe-inspiring. With the right coaching (paging Brian Leetch) he will be a force for many years.

In the second period, the Rangers extend to a 3-0 lead when Day flips one through a Gettinger screen that finds it’s way home. Stromwall and Gabriel Fontaine got assists on the goal. The Blueshirts got their first power play in this period. Lias Andersson looked his best setting up on the half boards on top of the right circle. The Rangers moved the puck deftly with many one touch passes and golden chances, but didn’t get any bounces. Alexi Bereglazov looked out of place all night. In a good way. His positional play and reach were giving the Blackhawks fits all night. He had no trouble with the smaller rink, and his savvy against the inexperienced was overwhelming. He was way too good for these guys. Center, Vinny Letteri showed good puck handling skill to go with some flashy stick handling.

The third period saw the Rangers take way too many penalties. Fontaine was the worst offender. While he showed good two way play, and also was strong with his possession, the penalties led to 2 late goals ruining a shutout Neil deserved. Neil was very good moving laterally, and was stout after the lead was cut to one. Ty Ronning showed promise with his skill. Fontaine and Ronning were drafted in the 6th and 7th round respectively in 2016, and both have the look of guys that can play in the NHL. Defenseman Neal Pionk was sharp on both sides of the puck. He played with a physical edge and looked dangerous offensively. All 6 defensemen looked good to me. Day had a great third period. On the negative side, Andersson and wing, Robin Kovacs were fairly quiet.

But, it was one game, and a fairly impressive one in that New York was clearly the better team. Obviously all of the players on both sides lack experience, and that has to be taken into account at all times. I am looking forward to seeing the team play other competition. While there is no game breaking offensive talent, they do look skilled, and it was a fun game to watch.

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