The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (1-3-0) vs. the New York Rangers (1-1-1, SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter)
The Last Devils Game: Last night, the Devils played their first preseason game at the Prudential Center, hosting the New York Islanders. It was also the team's first win of the preseason, and the first home game. As I was there...attendance was scattered at best (as could be expected), but still managed to get quite loud for Nick's horn rendition of Rock and Roll Part 2. I was impressed on that front. The Devils continued to showcase sloppy play. They took 6 penalties in the game, all of them coming in the first two periods. This sloppy play also led to the game's first goal, as both Jiri Tlusty and Marc-Andre Gragnani took penalties 13 seconds apart, leading to a long 5 on 3 that the Islanders converted. Joseph Blandisi would tie up the game rather quickly, however, ending the set with a shorthanded breakaway goal that was quite sweet. Blandisi would also fight later in the period in an attempt to get the Gordie Howe hat trick, but never managed to get an assist. The Devils would also see goals from John Moore, Mike Cammalleri, and Reid Boucher, as the Devils would go on to score 4 goals. What I was impressed with was their ability to crash the net after a long shot from the point, leading to some nice rebound attempts. That was not so prevalent last season, and I think it will be greatly beneficial. Keith Kinkaid played the entire game in net and played quite well. He did give up two goals on 23 shots, but made some nice saves at points and looked like he could be ready to go for the season. The Devils would win 4-2, and Shane had the recap here.
The Last Rangers Game: On Thursday night, the Rangers traveled up to New England to play a game against the Boston Bruins. The game ultimately went into a shootout. While Boston would go up 1-0 on a goal by Tyler Randell, the Rangers would score 3 unanswered goals and were leading 3-1 after 2 periods. Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes were among those who scored for New York. In the third, Boston would tie the game with two goals, one from Brandon Carlo early, and one very late from Ryan Spooner while Boston had an empty net. In the shootout, Boston would score 3 on Jeff Malcolm, while New York only put up 2 on Jeremy Smith. Henrik Lundqvist started the game, but only played the first two periods. Bryan Winters over at Blueshirt Banter had the recap here.
The Last Devils-Rangers Game: Back on Monday, the Devils had the 2nd preseason game of the season, and the first against the Rangers. It was not a great affair for the goaltenders. Of the 6 goals that New Jersey gave up, four were by Yann Danis, and he gave those up on a grand total of 11 shots. Cory Schneider started the game, and gave up 2 goals on 12 shots in the 22:46 of ice time that he received. As for the scoring, it was not the worst game for the Devils, as they did manage to pot three. Jordin Tootoo had the first, followed by Mike Sislo and Adam Larsson. All three goals for NJ were scored whilst on the power play, which says very positive things about the pp unit but not so positive things about the team's 5 on 5 offense. The Devils were extremely undisciplined, however, taking 8 penalties. The game ended 6-3, and John had the recap here.
The Goal: Show progress. After all, that is the main goal during training camp and the preseason, correct? Improve day to day, game to game, and get to the point where the team is ready to be competitive when the games start to count. For the Devils, they need to show that they can play a tight game without taking so many penalties. Last night they took 6 penalties against the Isles, another 6 against the Isles on Wednesday, 8 against the Rangers on Monday, and a bunch against Boston as well. That may be ok to a degree in the preseason, but it is utterly unacceptable in the regular season. The Devils need to clean up their game, and clean it up fast.
Narrowing Down the Roster: After tonight's game, there are only two more preseason games left for the Devils before training camp ends and the season begins. With the next preseason game not coming until Wednesday, there is a good chance that some cuts are made before then, and some people are sent down to Albany or to juniors. Therefore, for players on the bubble, tonight could be the last night to make a positive impression to Ray Shero and John Hynes. While I am sure that they will not make decisions solely based on one preseason game, a quality performance tonight could go a long way in helping a fringe player get some more looks with the big club.
Getting Game Ready: Now that this is the 5th preseason game already for New Jersey, the veterans especially should be getting into better game shape. Granted a player may not become fully game ready until after the season begins, but to get off to a positive start and prove the critics wrong, the veterans need to come out on October 9th and be as ready as possible. Tonight needs to be another step on that path. The guys that do play tonight should see some quality minutes against decent competition, and they need to play hard. By doing that, it will get them one step closer to creating positive moments once the regular season begins.
Who Will Play? While I have not heard rosters as of this writing, I would believe that we would see a different lineup than last night. Therefore, guys like Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, Eric Gelinas, Damon Severson, Stefan Matteau, Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, Kyle Palmieri, and Pavel Zacha should most likely see playing time. Be sure to keep checking the website here throughout the day for an update post when lineups become available.
The Goaltending Situation: Just like with the forwards, the goalies will most likely be different tonight. Against the Isles, we saw Keith Kinkaid get the start and play the entire game. Tonight, on the other hand, we should see a new goalie or goalies. Who it may be, however, is still up in the air as of this writing. It could be Cory Schneider for a little, or perhaps Scott Wedgewood or Yann Danis. Again, definitely check the website later on for an update.
Your Thoughts: Tonight would be a great game to showcase some positive momentum, as if for nothing else, it is a rivalry game against the Rangers. Beating them at the Rock is always sweet. But what is your take about tonight's game? What are you looking to see out of this Devils team? What improvements do you want to see as this team gears up for the regular season? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading.