NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Morgan Barron came down and stood up.
The 22-year-old Cornell player made his Rangers’ season debut Thursday in a 3-1 win over the Predators following his recall from the AHL Wolf Pack after Kaapo Kakko suffered an injury to the shoulder Saturday.
“I think he’s played 20 or 30 pro games, so we’re not going to rush a guy like that,” head coach Gerard Gallant said of the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Barron, who had actually played 22 games. in the AHL with Hartford and five with the Rangers at the end of last season. “He’s a tough guy who can really skate, take face-offs when needed and do some of that stuff. “
Barron, who got 9:18 of ice on the left wing on the fourth line with center Greg McKegg and right winger Ryan Reaves who included some penalties for rotational death, was one of the last cuts in the club. After leading the Wolf Pack with 21 points (10-11) in 21 games last year, he scored in each of Hartford’s first two games last weekend. In the AHL, he is a leading player. Here, for now, a low-sixer.
“Being with the guys at camp for as long as I have been, you really get a feel for how the team wants to play and how they want to be efficient,” said Barron. “Looking at the first few games you can see there’s an emphasis on having low pucks, really winning battles and scoring those harder goals, so for me that was my focus there- low.
“It was just being able to go to the net a bit, but more, being able to find pucks and then combine that with the game in any situation. That was one of the perks of going to Hartford, was that I was going to have time on the penalty kill and power play.
Barron had hoped to be declared eligible to join Rangers for the 2020 bubble qualifying round, but was not. He was hoping to make the squad last season, but didn’t. He hoped to get the university out of this camp, but did not. But he seems to have responded constructively to these disappointments.
“I spoke to some of the guys when I got sent and I think if you look at this locker room or any other NHL locker room there are a lot of guys who spent a lot of time in the minors. even up to the age of 25 and 26, before they really have a chance to consolidate in training, ”said the native of Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Of course it’s disappointing, I want to be in the NHL as soon as possible, like everyone else does.
“But you look at someone like Kevin Rooney, who took a while in his career compared to some of those first-round picks here that jump straight in. But he kept going down and just put his head down and worked. and now he’s in the lineup every night and contributing heavily so he’s just one of the guys in the locker room that I can see kind of got it done the right way.
“You just know that if you keep working, eventually you will have your opportunity. “
Kakko, who is eligible to come out of the injured reserve in time for Monday’s home game against the Flames, took part in morning practice while wearing a protective red jersey. It was Kakko’s first time on the ice since his injury.
The Rangers won 22 of 44 faceoffs in the first two periods, but then lost 13 of 20 in the third to finish 29 for 35 (45.3 percent). It was, however, a marked improvement over the first two games of the trip, in which they won 35 and lost 75 (31.8%).
Igor Shesterkin came on Thursday after allowing two goals on 73 shots in 123: 11 in his last two starts. … Julien Gauthier was scratched to make way for Barron, joining Libor Hajek and Jarred Tinordi in street clothes. … The Rangers end their four-game trip Saturday afternoon in Ottawa.