If there’s one player on the Rangers who can always grasp the feel of what’s going on with the team at a given moment and explain it to outsiders, it’s Ryan Strome. And according to Strome, guys are hungry to make the playoffs this season for the first time since 2017.
"You can really feel the vibe of the team,’’ Strome said Thursday after the Rangers returned to practice following Wednesday’s day off. "It's such a cliche, but going home and watching the playoffs, it just sucks, right? And I think we have so much talent in that dressing room. And this year we've gone out and added some intangibles and some parts. And we want to be in those [playoff] games.’’
As the Rangers prepared for their third game of the preseason Friday in Newark against the Devils, Strome touched on a number of topics, including describing some of the differences between new coach Gerard Gallant and former coach David Quinn.
"I think the number one thing is the systems are a lot simpler,’’ Strome said of Gallant vs. Quinn. "It's not rocket science what we're doing out there. It's just about executing it. I think it creates a little bit less thinking for us out there.
"What he expects and demands on the bench isn't anything no one's capable of,’’ Strome said. "It's keep pucks out of the middle; chip it in, chip it out; don't beat yourselves, and support the puck.’’
Gallant is less hands-on than Quinn, Strome said. He leaves the players alone and seems to allow them more freedom to play and police themselves than Quinn did.
"It puts a little bit more ownership on us [players],’’ he said. "The older guys have more responsibility to make sure . . . guys are doing the right things.’’
Individually, Strome, who is entering the final year of his contract, said he won’t be distracted by contract negotiations ("My longest contract's been my entry-level contract, so, I'm used to what this is kind of like,’’ he joked), and he said as he and left wing Artemi Panarin try to adjust to new linemate Kaapo Kakko, it is incumbent on them to adjust to Kakko just as much as Kakko must adjust to them.
"I don't think it's just saying Kaapo has to click with us,’’ he said. "I think it's vice versa, and I think that's one thing that we've talked about, especially in the preseason. I told him before [Tuesday’s] game, I'm like, ‘When you get the puck, shoot it.’ ’’
Notes & quotes: Brennan Othmann, the 2021 first-round pick, was sent back to his junior team following practice . . . Gallant tweaked some lines and defense pairs at practice. Vitali Kravtsov skated with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider; Julien Gauthier played right wing with Filip Chytil and Barclay Goodrow, and D Nils Lundkvist partnered with Jarred Tinordi, while Patrik Nemeth skated with Libor Hajek . . . Gallant hinted the experiment of Alexis Lafreniere playing right wing is over for now, and Kreider is more likely to switch to the right side than Lafreniere when the season starts. "Lafreniere is a little bit more comfortable on the left side right now, as a young player,’’ Gallant said. "So we're going to give that a try and see.’’