The Time: 7:00 PM EDT
The TV Broadcast: MSG+(HD)
The Match-up: The New Jersey Devils (0-0-2) vs. the New York Rangers (1-0-0)
The Last Devils & Rangers Game: They played each other on Thursday night at MSG. The Rangers won 4-3 in overtime with a power play goal by Marian Gaborik. Here's my recap of that game. For the Rangers' perspective, Nick Montemagno has this recap at Blueshirt Banter.
The Goal: Again, the result doesn't matter - it's all about the performance. And they're going to be looked at more closely. Both the Devils (Tom Gulitti has the cut list for NJ at Fire & Ice) and Rangers (Steve Zipay reported this list on Blue Notes at Newsday) made their first cuts in training camp. Those remaining are either sure-fire NHL players or those still in consideration. Keep a very close eye on those who would fall in the latter group. It's not enough to get on the gameday roster, they'll have to perform to survive the second and/or final cut. That goes for both teams. Please continue after the jump for further thoughts on tonight's game.
While both teams made their first cuts, a lot of attention should be paid to those beyond the first line or first defensive pairing. They're going to consist of the battles on both rosters. I noted that the Devils have 7 healthy players still in camp that haven't been in preseason yesterday. I'm not optimistic for most of them for their chances in making the team. If they were impressing, why haven't they gotten a game yet?
Still, I'd certainly like to see some of them either tonight or on Tuesday against the Flyers at the Rock. Among them, I really want to see Tyler Eckford the most since he could break through the roster with his two-way skills and having more experience than Matt Taormina. According this post by Rich Chere at NJ.com, Eckford is hopeful for an opportunity to make his mark on the depth chart. I don't disagree, especially since the Devils gave a game to the eventually-going-back-to-junior Eric Gelinas. I see no reason to not give Eckford a game.
As far as who will be playing, it's completely unclear as of this writing (9:15 PM on 9/24). While they skated with the second group on Friday, Tom Gulitti reported that Zach Parise told him that their line will play tonight. Presumably, that means a second straight night of Parise, Travis Zajac, and Ilya Kovalchuk zipping about on offense. Given how important it'll be for them to communicate and develop with each other, I'm fine with them getting a second straight game as a unit. Hopefully it's not a second straight night of them carrying the offense. Gulitti also learned that Martin Brodeur won't start, which is fine he doesn't need this game; that Jamie Langenbrunner won't be in the line up, also fine as his spot isn't in danger; and that Jacob Josefson will likely sit this game out to ensure his sore foot is fully healed. That doesn't really say a whole lot, and of course, it can all change right before gametime anyway.
If there's someone I wouldn't mind seeing get a second straight game, it's Mattias Tedenby. As Rich Chere noted on Thursday night, he wasn't happy with how he did. Fair enough. Now that he's got it out of the way, I'd like to see how he would respond - especially with different wingers. This is just a personal hope, but I'd love to see him with Vladimir Zharkov on his opposite wing. It likely won't happen and I understand - I'm just hoping.
So let me say that in addition to wanting to see Tyler Eckford, there are few others I wouldn't want to see play tonight. I don't think there's a lot to be gained from playing Brad Mills and Matthew Corrente in a third straight preseason game. Both have done all right in their two games, I just want to see others get a shot on the lineup. I don't see the purpose of giving minor league vets like Rob Davison and Stephen Gionta another game unless the Devils honestly think they're in contention for a spot on New Jersey. I don't think they are, there's a reason why they are AHL veterans. Especially in Gionta's case since the Devils have two players on try-out who can play wing as well as center in Adam Mair and Marcus Nilson in addition to several forwards from the AHL that haven't gotten a game yet still in camp. Of course, in all of this cases, I accept that I could/may/will be proven wrong. So it may be.
Speaking of, I don't know if Nilson warrants a third straight preseason game. I wasn't impressed with his performance in the first game, and he was a late fill-in for Josefson on Thursday night and didn't impress. I'm still waiting to see what he can do. At least Mair has thrown some hits, some punches, and did some PK work. He helped the team in his own way; whereas Nilson hasn't been noticeable. He does know it's a try-out, right?
As far as the team performance goes, I want to see fewer penalties tonight period. Handing an opponent 7 power plays is just unacceptable regardless if the game counts or not. I'd also like to see a better power play. It's not so much of the lack of scoring that bothers me, just the lack of sustained pressure on it. According to Gulitti, man advantage plays were a focus of Friday's practices. Let's see Adam Oates' direction leads to an improved PP tonight. Again, I'm not looking for goals, just consistent, offensive possession. If the Devils can establish that, then the goals will eventually come.
In any case, check out Gulitti and Chere on Saturday for updated news for tonight's game. Feel free to link to any updates in the comments. Also, please feel free to discuss tonight's game ahead of the GameThread in the comments. Talk about who you want to see, who you don't, and what expectations you have for tonight's game. And again, the results don't matter tonight - it's all about performances from here to October 2. Kevin will take care of you with a GameThread and a recap for tonight's game. Thanks for reading, and go Devils.