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Rangers' final scrimmage before season resumes is a lively affair

Rangers forward Artemi Panarin skates during a scrimmage

Rangers forward Artemi Panarin skates during a scrimmage  on July 24, 2020 at the MSG Training Center. Credit: Nick Homler/NY Rangers/Nick Homler

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Coach David Quinn admitted he wasn’t really looking for any answers, nor trying to solve any persistent problems in the Rangers’ final scrimmage Friday before they head to Toronto Sunday for the NHL’s 24-team 2019-20 restart.

“It was more about the plan and execution, and getting the reps we needed,’’ he said after the team’s third full-squad scrimmage since it began training camp 2.0 two weeks ago. “Every day [we’re] taking a closer step to doing what we’re going to have to do on the first of August. And it’s really that simple. Because . . . time is of the essence; we don’t have a lot of it. You’ve got to take advantage of every practice, physically and mentally.’’

Quinn praised his players’ “intentions’’ in the scrimmage, and their attention to detail.

“Little things, like faceoffs, and holdups, and line changes, and things like that,’’ he said. “I thought there was definitely more purpose, and more of a game-like feel to what we’re going to do on the first [of August, when they open their best-of-5 play-in series against the Carolina Hurricanes].’’

Mika Zibanejad, the team’s No. 1 center and leading goal scorer (with 40) in the regular season, said the scrimmage had a better intensity than the previous two.

“I thought the intentions were better, and that’s what we talked about right after, as well, and we’ve been talking about this week,’’ he said. “Try to prepare, and [make] sure we do everything we’re doing August 1st. And if you’re not going to do it then, you’re not going to do it now. That’s kind of the mentality we’ve been going with.’’

The blue team, which featured of the first and fourth lines, with the second and third defense pairs, beat the white team, featuring Artemi Panarin and presumed No. 1 goalie Igor Shesterkin 4-1, in a physical affair.

The hitting in the scrimmage was ratcheted up, throughout. Marc Staal dumped 19-year-old Kaapo Kakko into the end boards in the second period, and prospect K’Andre Miller squished Ryan Strome into the end boards on the same shift in the third period that saw Chris Kreider crunch Tim Gettinger into the side boards. Quinn, though, said he wasn’t too concerned the hitting would get out of control.

“I thought guys were really smart about being physical,’’ he said. “A couple plays jump out at me -— where Tony [DeAngelo] had a chance to step up and just bury [Kakko], and he kind of let up on him. And then [Brendan Smith] stood up and [Zibanejad] could have got, you know, hit pretty hard. Smitty let up. So I thought our guys were smart and understanding, when guys were vulnerable, and they weren’t going to play through to the point where they might get somebody hurt.’’

Notes & quotes

Brett Howden, Brendan Lemieux, Kreider and Julien Gauthier (into an empty net) scored for the blue team. Hartford call-up Vinni Lettieri scored the only goal for the white team, on a penalty shot against Henrik Lundqvist . . . Shesterkin played all three 15-minute periods in one goal, while Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev split time in the other goal. Shesterkin allowed three goals, but stopped a penalty shot by Greg McKegg . . . Georgiev did not allow a goal.

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