Day Three of the Rangers’ return was all about scrimmaging, as coach David Quinn tried to get his team up to speed and into game-like conditions.
“We haven't played a game in a while, and I just think the quicker you get in the game situations, the better you're going to be,’’ Quinn said of Wednesday's intense scrimmaging. “We've got some time, but before you know it, August 1st will be here, so we have to put these guys in game-like situations and get them acclimated to the game pace and the changes, and shift lengths, and the little details and nuances of the game.’’
The biggest coaching decision Quinn will have to make is choosing his starting goaltender for Game 1 of the best-of-5 play-in series against Carolina that starts August 1. Rookie Igor Shesterkin had taken over as the team’s top goaltender by the time play was halted March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but franchise icon Henrik Lundqvist has dominant numbers (33-12-1, 2.00 goals-against average, .934 save percentage, including 3-0, 2.33, and .947 this season) against Carolina. In the first scrimmage, which was two, 20-minute periods, Shesterkin played the entire scrimmage, while Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev split the assignment in the other net, each playing one period.
Shesterkin’s white team won, 3-1, with Artemi Panarin scoring on a penalty shot and into an empty net. Lundqvist gave up two goals (a tip-in and the penalty shot), while Georgiev did not give up a goal (not counting the empty-netter). Shesterkin made several fine saves.
“I thought Igor had a great day today,’’ Quinn said. “I thought he was outstanding today. And I liked all of them. Hank had a good day, I thought Georgiev had a good day. It's not a surprise. as I've said, we have a lot of faith in all three of these guys and, so, let the battle continue.’’
Greg McKegg scored for the blue team, and Tim Gettinger scored the other white team goal . . . Hartford goaltender Adam Huska was the only player not to play in the scrimmage . . . The team is off Thursday and returns to practice Friday.