The Rangers opened training camp on Monday and the majority of the focus was on the new shiny bauble, Alexis Lafreniere, who has been as hyped since he arrived in the New York area. Almost as impressive in a different manner was Chris Kreider, who in an interview with the media showed once again why he is captain material. In the WJC, Brendan Schneider tallied a goal and an assist, with each not even close to why he was talked about after the game.
The hype on Laf is through the roof. My hope is that if he goes a game or two or god forbid, three, games without the scoring, we hold off panicking. Up and downs will happen, especially so for an 18-year old in the best league in the world. Lafreniere has been training with Ben Prentiss and Kreider, who clearly has been impressed by the kid, Kreider's term.
“He’s an awesome, awesome guy; I mean, an awesome kid. You forget how young he is because he carries himself with such maturity.
“I’ve played with him a bunch and the skill is very, very evident. He’s got the [puck] on a string, sees the ice incredibly well, [his] head’s up. The one thing that really struck me from the last few weeks is that he’s not an immature kid. He carries himself with that level of maturity, but he’s a lot thicker than the normal 18- or 19-year-old kid.
“He’s very strong on his skates, and he competes. He’s a dog on the puck. Guys try to bump him, he tries to spin off and get to that ice. So he’s hypercompetitive, he wants to win and you can tell he loves playing the game. He’s got a serious passion for the game and enthusiasm, really good energy and just wants to succeed and win.”
If you listen to Kreider, he sounds like a captain. He brings the experience of being a hyped prospect, in his case, one who made his debut in the playoffs. In addition, he has experienced the highs-and-lows, including dealing with a severe injury. Plus, Kreider is that bridge between the old guard, including Staal, Fast and Hank, all three of which he waxed poetically, and the newbies, who look up to him.
, the snipe for the goal was nice, but his play defensively was even more impressive. You saw his ability to recover from offense to defense, showing strong skating to cut down the angle of an attacking player. In addition, Scheinder's ability to consistently make a good exit pass to trigger the attack is an underrated aspect of his game. The tournament has showcased Schneider's skill set and he will face Team USA in the Gold Medal Game on Tuesday.
The game start times
were announced today. No surprise that the January 14 game has a 7pm puck drop. The majority of the contests have that start time with the first "early" game, Saturday, February 6 at 1pm versus New Jersey.
Three teams opted out of the AHL season
, which starts February 5. Binghamton will play in Newark rather than their home arena, but they have been placed in the North Division. I sure hope we have cross-divisional play, because if not, Bridgeport, Hartford and Providence will get real bored with one another and beat the tar out of one another.