Kaapo Kakko's English is improving, and his comfort level and confidence are growing. Now, two games into his NHL career, the desire the New York Rangers rookie forward has to produce is slowly rising to a level matching the hype that preceded him.
"I want to score, so there is a little bit of pressure, but we have 80 games left," Kakko said following practice Tuesday. "I think it's coming. I know everybody was thinking that I'm going to score in my first game. That didn't happen. Maybe next game. Hopefully."
If it doesn't happen against the Edmonton Oilers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; SN, MSG, NHL.TV), the Rangers (2-0-0) certainly won't panic or begin to wonder what's wrong with the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
They love what they've seen from Kakko in wins against the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators. Though he has no points, he has three shots on goal and is averaging 14:23 of ice time per game (15:31 in the opener against the Jets and 13:54 against the Senators), playing 18 shifts in each game.