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New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers - Preseason Game #1 Preview

The Date: September 16, 2009

The Time: 7 PM EST

The Television Coverage: MSG (HD)/MSG+ (HD)

The Goal: There is an old cliche in sports, usually said to kids starting out in sport, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game."  Ultimately, that's what this game is really about.  Yes, I hate the Rangers.  Yes, you hate the Rangers.  Yes, we would all love and glorify a massive beatdown of Our Hated Rivals. 

But tonight, the game isn't about the result, it's about the execution.  The goal is to look sharp rather than try to blow away the Rangers - which would be nice to see, but is ultimately unnecessary.

It's about prospects making their case for a roster spot.  It's about regulars getting ready for the regular season.  It's about seeing if the tactics worked on in training camp so far make any sense in a real game situation.  The Devils announced their roster yesterday; check that out right here to see who'll be suiting up. Read on for a little more about tactics and what else to look for in tonight's game.

As Tom Gulitti has reported yesterday, players had the following to say about Jacques Lemaire's tactics that he's been teaching and running in training camp so far:

"There's a method behind what we're doing and it's explained, certain things, transition and how we want to play this year. It's educational these first three days for all of us to trying to learn the things he wants us to look for. It's a good transitional game." - Brian Rolston

"They're making it very clear what they want done and how they want us to play it. It's a process. They want us to get the puck up as quick as we can and forecheck." - Cory Murphy

So, tomorrow will be the first time the tweaked system Lemaire's been running be shown A) against another NHL team and B) in front of the fans.  We shall see how well the forechecking and transitional game works, as well as whether Lemaire does get "a little more offense" out of the Devils.

With respect to our opponents, they have played Boston last night in their first preseason game and so there will be clearer information tomorrow.  The Rangers lost to Boston 2-1, yes.  Yet, the quick recap from Jim Schmeideberg at Blueshirt Banter focuses on the real importance of the game: who looked good, who didn't look good, etc. 

I cannot emphasize that it's more important to look at how the players play as opposed to the result.  A blowout loss, of course, won't be acceptable.  But I'll take an ultimately meaningless preseason loss if a number of players do look good.  For example, Yann Danis is a good player to focus on - see what we could expect when he starts the occasional game for the Devils. Another example will be how well conditioned the team is in their first game, their general pace, awareness, and such.  

Even if it all goes awry, hey, it is the Devils' first preseason game, this game literally means nothing in the larger scheme of things (a rare thing to write about a Devils-Rangers game, but it's true), and the second one is a week later.  Feel free to comment away for anything I may have missed, anything to add, and whatever else you feel about this game.