There were the same number of power-play goals as shorthanded tallies (it’s a law that a shorthanded goal is called a “tally, correct?”) through the Rangers’ extended specialty team work at Thursday’s practice.
That is probably not what anyone wants when play begins for real on the first day of next month.
“The way we did it maybe really didn’t lend itself for [the power play] to have a ton of success,” coach David Quinn said. “We let it go a little longer, part of the rationale for that was from a conditioning standpoint, the bad ice, learning to play tired.
“The next time we do it, we’ll do it a little bit differently where we get them some rest. But our penalty kill has been good, we’ve worked more on our penalty kill lately than we have on our power play, so they probably have a little bit of a leg up on it.”
The man-advantage units remain the same, with Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Ryan Strome and Tony DeAngelo on PP1 and with Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba on PP2.
Quinn used Zibanejad-Jesper Fast, Strome-Brett Howden and Greg McKegg-Phil Di Giuseppe forward tandems on the PK with Marc Staal-Brendan Smith and Ryan Lindgren-Jacob Trouba defense pairs.
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Fast, Strome, Zibanejad, Howden and McKegg were top five in forwards’ penalty-kill ice time during the season. Brendan Lemieux, suspended for the first two games against Carolina, was sixth. Di Giuseppe was on for a sum of 2:15 of penalty-kill work in his 20 games with the Blueshirts and was on for two power-play goals against.
Lemieux scored the shorthanded goal on Thursday after a Panarin turnover in front.
Following the third straight day on which Igor Shesterkin had one net to his own and Henrik Lundqvist — spectacular throughout practice that included felonious thievery against Zibanejad from in front — and Alex Georgiev split the other, Quinn said he would not announce his Game 1 starter until either that day or the day before the match.
“There are a lot of things that go into how we’re doing this,” said Quinn, who added that the next “eight or nine days [before the first game] are going to matter.”
In the playoffs, a team such as the Islanders and a coach such as Barry Trotz does not announce his starting goaltender in advance of pregame warm-ups.
Steve Fogarty skated with the varsity Tuesday, Vinni Lettieri did so Wednesday and Thursday it was Vitali Kravtsov’s turn. All three wingers — and all of the club’s taxi-squad players other than K’Andre Miller, whose contract begins next year and is thus ineligible to travel to the hub city — will be with the team for its stay in Toronto.
“I’ve liked his work ethic,” Quinn said of Kravtsov, the ninth-overall selection of the 2018 draft who had a difficult and disappointing first year of North American pro hockey. “It’s been difficult circumstances, he’s been working really hard — not difficult circumstances, but you know, [skating] with the extras, it’s different.
“I think he’s really embraced the challenge, he’s enjoying being here, he’s learning a lot and I thought he earned the opportunity to skate with the big group today. His skill is obvious. As with most highly skilled players, they have to learn how to apply that skill level here at the NHL level.
“He’s going through a bit of a learning curve, but we like what we see.”
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