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Playing with six alternate captains last season was a resounding success for the Rangers when it came to team dynamics, which blossomed under the leadership of Jacob Trouba, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Strome.
However, now that Trouba is captain, the alternates must be distributed accordingly.
Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said management is still uncertain but plans to discuss the matter in the coming week.
“There are different scenarios, different combinations we can do,” Gallant said on Thursday before the Rangers lost 5-2 in their third preseason game against the Devils at Madison Square Garden. “We are going to decide here in the very near future and before the season starts we will probably make an announcement. We are not going to do anything for now.”
Since Trouba dons the “C” and Ryan Strome is no longer a Ranger after leaving for the Ducks in free agency, the Blueshirts could name as many as four alternates or just two. If the Rangers went with two, Kreider and Zibanejad would likely pick, the club’s two longest-serving members.
It could be counterproductive to strip Panarin and Goodrow of their A’s, so the Rangers may want to go with four and make sure every player who wore a letter last year is still wearing one this season. Given how much the team praised the leader group last season, the Rangers must do what they can to wear it in 2022-23.
After sitting on the bench for the last 6:05 of the Rangers’ second exhibition game Tuesday, an overtime loss for the Bruins, Alexis Lafreniere was back on the ice on Thursday morning before the left winger faced the Devils that evening.
Lafreniere assured he was fine after taking a hard shot from teammate Hunter Skinner from the lower part of his right leg. He said it was just a bruise.
“He could have played the rest of the game,” Gallant said of Lafreniere, who scored a short goal on Thursday night. “But it’s clearly a practice match, we’re not going to bring him out with six minutes to go. He limped a bit, but he’s fine. He skated today and there are no problems.”
The Rangers scored two shorthanded goals against the Devils, giving them a total of three to three exhibition games so far. Kreider buried the first of the night for his second preseason score, but the Devils scored four consecutive goals to take a 4-1 lead early in the third period. After Lafreniere made it a 4-2 game with a heads-up takeout, Erik Haula scored an empty net to round out the score.
After waiving Turner Elson and CJ Smith, the Rangers also sent 19 players to Hartford to shorten their roster to 40 players, according to Cap Friendly. Names heading to the AHL include Matthew Robertson, Talyn Boyko, Dylan Garand and Bobby Trivigno.
Panarin said he believes he will face the Devils in his first preseason game on Friday night.
Vincent Trocheck felt under the weather on Thursday, so the 29-year-old center was out of practice and didn’t take on the Devils.