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5 things learned from Sept. 27 preseason games

Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich impress in Rangers debuts, Flyers rookie defensemen showing promise

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Now that the 15-day, 106-game preseason schedule has begun, it's time to take a closer look at the players, teams and stories that are making headlines in the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season Oct. 12.

Here are five things we learned from the preseason games Tuesday:

Power players: If the first preseason game is any indication, New York Rangers linemates Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich could be fueling the offense this season.

Kreider and Zibanejad combined for two goals and five points, and Buchnevich had three shots and a plus-2 rating, in a 5-2 win against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

Zibanejad, who was acquired by the Rangers in a trade with the Ottawa Senators that included center Derick Brassard on July 18, had a power-play goal in the first period and assisted on Brandon Pirri's power-play goal in the second.

"I think everyone you ask wants to get a good start, especially with a new team," Zibanejad told the Rangers website. "It's still the first game so you don't want to think that highly about it, but it's obviously nice to get a good start."


Rookies impress for Flyers: Philadelphia Flyers rookie defensemen Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim, regarded as the top two defense prospects in the organization, have showed much promise in two preseason games.

Sanheim, selected with the No. 17 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, had two assists, three shots on goal and a plus-2 rating in 17:26 of ice time during a 4-0 win against the Islanders at Wells Fargo Center. Provorov (2015 draft, No. 7) had two hits and two blocked shots in 21:43.

Sanheim and Provorov have been working on the power play and penalty kill.

"They were impressive," Flyers goaltender Steve Mason (23 saves) told "I think [rookie defenseman] Phil Myers had a great game; poised and very strong. [Provorov] played 28 minutes [Monday] and [Tuesday] picked up right where he left off, and Travis skates real well. Having that fourth man on the rush is a big thing as well."

Provorov played 28:48 in a 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Monday.


Reimer rejuvenated: Florida Panthers goaltender James Reimer, who signed a five-year contract on July 1, stopped all 12 shots he faced in his Panthers debut, a 4-1 win against the Nashville Predators at BB&T Center.

Reimer was one of six playing in the game who appeared in an NHL game last season. The Panthers loaded their lineup with prospects in the first game of a doubleheader in Sunrise, Florida.

Reimer, who spent the past six seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, is expected to back up Roberto Luongo. Reimer, 28, was replaced midway through the second period to give prospect Sam Brittain some work.

"Preseason is all about getting ready, getting the cobwebs out," Reimer told the Miami Herald. "I thought it was a good game for that."


The gift of Grant: Buffalo Sabres center Derek Grant, who signed a one-year, two-way contract on July 2, is making the most of a big opportunity.

Grant had a goal and two assists in 15:36 of ice time to help the Sabres to a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at First Niagara Center.

Because center Ryan O'Reilly is still at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 playing for Team Canada, and Jack Eichel is getting a break after playing for Team North America, Grant has received plenty of playing time and continues to do all the right things in the eyes of coach Dan Bylsma.

"He's building trust in his game with the way he's playing," Bylsma told The Buffalo News. "He's had four days (in training camp), and he's had four good days. He's going to get another opportunity because of that."

Grant (6-foot-3, 203 pounds), 26, was chosen by the Ottawa Senators in the fourth round (No. 119) of the 2008 NHL Draft, when Sabres general manager Tim Murray worked for the Senators.


The veteran prospect: Detroit Red Wings forward Mitch Callahan, who has been in the pipeline since being chosen in the sixth round (No. 180) of the 2009 draft, scored two goals in a 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Joe Louis Arena.

The effort served notice that Callahan is still willing to work hard and put in the effort with the hope of one day earning a roster spot on the Red Wings.

Callahan, 25, who cleared waivers the past two seasons, played on a line with Eric Tangradi and Matt Lorito, and had three shots and three hits in 14:32. He has 78 goals and 143 points in 299 games in five seasons for Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.

"Good for [Callahan]," coach Jeff Blashill said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "He's a bit of a hockey player. He just finds a way to do the right thing. He doesn't always look the skill set part, but he finds a way to do the right thing."

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