Here is the lesson from last summer’s three-game, qualifying-round sweep by Carolina as David Quinn identifies it:
“If we’re not going to have success, it can’t be for a lack of conditioning or a lack of effort. That can’t be,” the coach said following Monday’s first training camp sessions. “Those can’t be two reasons why we don’t have the season we’re capable of having.
“I know our guys understand that. We’ve certainly talked about it an awful lot since we got out of that bubble last year and had our asses handed to us by Carolina. As we talked about when the season ended, we don’t want to paint the brush with three games from last year but we can’t ignore it.
“For our team to be capable of taking advantage of the skill we have and some of the talent we have, we’ve got to make sure we come here every day with a great effort and in great shape,” the coach said. “And this year more than ever, just because of the schedule, the teams you’re going to see, to me, those can’t be two reasons why we don’t have success.”
In addition, there is a renewed emphasis on being on the right side of the puck and creating offense from defense.
“Over the course of [last season], I think you could see the progress, especially on the defensive side of the puck,” Chris Kreider said. “It’s something we’ve talked about in camp with the coaches. We were at the top of the league in multiple categories for a pretty long stretch at the end of the season before everything was stopped.
“We know that we’ve got the scale, we know that we can bring a pretty dynamic offensive game. So the thing that has been echoed through the first few days here is that we don’t sacrifice offense to play defense. If anything, we can create offense off our defense.
“We need to do things extremely well that are under our control,” said the winger. “So [Monday], we were really harping on defense. I think we found last year that when we had success is when we played as a five-man unit and everyone executed quickly and with tenacity.”
K’Andre Miller skated on the left with Brendan Smith, Jack Johnson was on the left with Anthony Bitetto, Libor Hajek was on the left with Darren Raddysh while Tarmo Reunanen played the right with Matthew Robertson on defense.
Morgan Barron played right wing on a unit with Brendan Lemieux on the left and Kevin Rooney in the middle. It is quite possible that Lemieux and Barron could flank Brett Howden — who filled in for the absent Mika Zibanejad between Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich — on the season-opening fourth unit.
Quinn said that he had not gotten an update from the training staff on the status of Zibanejad, Justin Richards and Keith Kinkaid, all of whom missed Monday’s sessions for undisclosed reasons. The coach said he was hopeful they would be available Tuesday.
The Rangers will send those players who do not make the roster or taxi squad to Hartford to skate as a group before AHL training camp opens.
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