After the high-intensity, lightning-speed first practice of training camp on Friday, Rangers center Filip Chytil sat at his locker while replenishing with a sports drink. Was he tired? No, he said. He felt good.
“That was so much fun today,’’ he said. “I can't wait for tomorrow's practice.’’
Chytil made it through Saturday’s practice, Sunday’s preseason game in Boston and Monday’s practice, but wasn’t able to finish Tuesday morning’s double-session practice. He left early with what the Rangers said was an upper-body injury. And he wasn’t the only one dealing with an injury Tuesday. Artemi Panarin did not practice because of a lower-body injury, the team said.
The status of both players is day-to-day, the team said.
“We're hoping day-to-day,’’ coach Peter Laviolette said of both players before the Rangers beat the Islanders, 4-2, in their second preseason game, and first at Madison Square Garden. “In general … with exhibition games, I think you want to just err on the side of caution, keep guys healthy and moving right.’’
Chytil, who had played a strong game in Boston (six shots on goal), wasn’t supposed to play against the Islanders, and was skating instead with the non-game group at the Blueshirts’ practice facility. Panarin had not played Sunday and it was unknown whether he was supposed to play Tuesday night.
Laviolette, running his first training camp with the Rangers, after taking over as coach in June, is known for his high-intensity practices. At his introductory news conference, he talked about the work ethic he believes teams need, and promised “we're going to start working in training camp.’’
But that may mean an increased risk of injury. First-line center Mika Zibanejad was forced to leave Sunday morning’s intrasquad scrimmage with an upper-body injury, and prospect Brennan Othmann, the team’s first-round pick in 2021, sat out Sunday with an upper-body injury.
Zibanejad and Othmann both returned to practice Monday (Zibanejad was in a non-contact jersey Monday but practiced fully Tuesday), and Othmann was in the lineup for Tuesday's game.
But for Zibanejad and Panarin, sitting out the first two preseason games likely means they won’t get as much preseason action as Laviolette would have wanted. The coach said Tuesday that in general, he would like his veteran players to play in three of the six preseason games to be ready for the regular season, which opens Oct. 12 in Buffalo.
For Zibanejad and Panarin, missing the first two preseason games means they’d have to play in three of the final four to make that happen. And since the final four games come in two sets of back-to-backs (Thursday and Friday this week, and Wednesday and Thursday next week) that seems unlikely.
Igor Shesterkin started in goal for the Rangers and played the first 29:38, allowing one goal (on a power play) on 11 shots. Dylan Garand replaced him and allowed one goal on 12 shots. Kaapo Kakko scored 15 seconds into the game, and Tyler Pitlick and Chris Kreider (in a four-on-four situation) scored to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead by the 3:10 mark of the first period. Blake Wheeler scored for the Rangers in the second period. William Dufour (on the power play) and Arnaud Durandeau scored for the Islanders … The Rangers, who are off Wednesday, host the Devils on Thursday.