Welcome to preseason. The first of six games is tonight, it'll be on television, it'll cost money to attend, and while it won't count, there will be at least sixty minutes of actual hockey.
The Time: 7:00 PM EDT
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+, MSG (If you want the Rangers feed), and the NHL Network
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils at the New York Rangers (SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter)
As it's preseason, these previews will be different from the ones from the regular season. There's not much in the way of past work. There's not much value in what a team did in their last game if only because the rosters will likely be different. Again, the results really don't matter. I do have a post later today on some suggestions I have to watch these sorts of games to get something of value about them.
There isn't too much information ahead of tonight's game regarding the Devils' roster. That information will likely come out later today. That said, Tom Gulitti did confirm two absences at Fire & Ice on Sunday. Cory Schneider will not play. That's fine. He just needs to get into form for the season. There will be time for that. I'm interpreting that as that this game will be first of multiple opportunities for Scott Clemmensen and/or Keith Kinkaid to make their case for the #2 spot in this preseason. I look forward to whoever that will be and how they do. The other absence is Jon Merrill. As Gulitti explained, Merrill got hit hard in a collision with Ruslan Fedotenko on Friday and he hasn't been on the ice since. Given the quotes from Peter DeBoer about him, I think this is just a precautionary move. Again, that's fine. He's going to be on the roster one way or another. There will be time for him to get closer to game-shape for the season.
For the opposition, the Rangers held a scrimmage yesterday. Bryan Winters recapped it over at Blueshirt Banter. Both he and Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record (Gulitti's paper) confirmed that the white team will be playing this game. That means Henrik Lundqvist will start this game. It also means they will have a mix of established NHL players and those looking to make a case to become established NHL players. The former group includes Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, Martin St. Louis, Lundqvist, Marc Staal, and Dan Boyle. Winters' recap highlighted Kreider as a standout in Sunday's scrimmage. I'd keep an eye on him. The latter group features J.T Miller, Kevin Hayes, Ryan Bourque, Jesper Fast, and Michael Kostka. Miller was also a standout in the scrimmage per Winters' report. He's had more than a taste of the NHL, but he should be pushing for a full-time spot. A good game tonight helps that cause. Look for him as well.
Based on the roster the Rangers are expected to put out, I would expect the Devils to have a similar mix. I make the point in more detail in a post later today, but remember that the goal for each player in this game - on both teams - is not the same. Some will be out there to get ready. Others will be looking to impress on some level. In any case, try to enjoy the game as much as you can. It won't say much for either team's future this season, but it will say plenty about the immediate futures of various players on their respective teams.
Who do you want to see on New Jersey tonight? What do you think of the expected roster for the Rangers? Are you planning on watching one of the few preseason Devils games on TV? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about tonight's preseason game. Welcome to the return of hockey and thank you for reading.