BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Head coach Gerard Gallant said he would be healthy for Rangers in the pre-season game against the Islanders on Saturday night, most importantly.
That goal was broken at the end of the second round when Ryan Strom clashed with Island defender Scott Mayfield in a Rangers power game. Rangers ’1B center immediately took off his gloves, shuddered in pain, and began to like his right wrist.
Strom missed the rest of the game, with the Blues winning 5-4 in Philip Chitil’s third goal of the night in extra time, which he described as an injury to the team’s upper body.
After the game, Gallant didn’t seem to care much about Strom’s injury. The coach said he will keep the center from opening in Washington on Wednesday.
“He’ll be fine,” Gallant said as Rangers finished the season 4-2. “Only the upper body, but nothing as serious as we thought.”
When Rangers faced an island version that they could see in a regular season, Strom increased his speed and was effective in two rounds. The Rangers were also cautious and preferred their weapons to sit on Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.
Strom scored a goal and assisted before the injury to help them secure a 2-1 lead in the third round. After sending a goal-scoring assist to Vitaly Kravtsov to make it 1-1 in the first round, Strome put K’Andre Miller’s kick in the 39th second.
But Chitil’s hat-trick put the winner in extra time in a 2-0 power play to give Rangers the win.
“It’s important to me,” Chytil said of his pre-season hat-trick. “Of course it’s still a goal, we won the game before this season. Everyone can say it’s seasonal, but for our confidence it’s too big. We are happy to have finished the season like this. ”
The 22-year-old Czech added that the training season was an important time for Rangers to gather representatives and get used to Gallant’s new system. At the beginning of the camp, Strom had noted that Gallant’s system was “quite simple.”
“I agree with Stromer,” Chytil said. “It simply came to our notice then [one system for] three years in a row, we had the same system and now, in three games, we have to change it. We need to change our worldview. Sometimes you move with our instincts and sometimes you forget what to do now.
“It was a good preparation period for us [we] just get ready for Wednesday. “
Under Gallant, there is more freedom to just play, which discourages players from thinking too much. Gallant emphasizes killing his players, supporting the puck and the police. The 58-year-old reads less and has an older school style than his predecessor, David Quinn.
Gallant said he felt Rangers ’reading system was going well and needed time to synchronize the team.
“Guys are just used to what they do and if they always do that, it becomes a habit,” the coach said. “I don’t think it’s a big, big deal. It’s not a big difference, but it takes time and they’ve been good in the last two games.”