Welcome back to televised hockey. For now.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (1-0-0) at the New York Rangers (1-0-0; SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter)
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+
The Last Devils Game: Penalties, penalties, and penalties. This was John’s recap from the game. Not much from that game really bears importance for tonight - if I’m not mistaken, among tonight’s Devils, only Jimmy Hayes, Yaroslav Dyblenko, and Damon Severson played the first preseason game. Despite the overall sloppiness of last game, we should hope that today's group doesn't appear as hopelessly caught off-guard by rule changes. However, I would expect everything aside from penalties to be just as unrefined tonight.
The Last Rangers Game: Here is the recap from Blueshirt Banter of the New York Rangers’ first preseason game versus the New York Islanders. The final score was 1-0, in favor of the Rangers, and a total of 18 penalties were called in the game - including nine for slashing. Despite the game being an extremely one-sided affair, where the Rangers finished the third period leading in shots 42-17, the Islanders somehow got the game to go to overtime - where it was ended by defenseman Neal Pionk with a spin move on Brock Nelson to put himself in a position to post the first, and final goal.
The Devils Line-Up: Andrew Gross of The Record posted the Devils roster for tonight’s game last night, and it is as follows:
Goalies: Cory Schneider, Mackenzie Blackwood
Defensemen: Yaroslav Dyblenko, Tim Erixon, Andy Greene, Josh Jacobs, Viktor Loov, Ben Lovejoy, Damon Severson, Colton White
Forwards: Austin Cangelosi, Brian Gibbons, Jimmy Hayes, Adam Henrique, Nick Lappin, Jan Mandat, Michael McLeod, Blake Pietila, Blake Speers, Drew Stafford, Ben Thomson, Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha
The Rangers Line-Up: I found a sorted full lineup for the New York Rangers on SNY.tv - here are the players that the Devils face tonight.
Forwards: Chris Kreider, Lias Andersson, Ryan Gropp, Daniel Catenacci, David Desharnais, Andrew Desjardins, Jimmy Vesey, Filip Chytil, Adam Tambellini, Matt Puempel, Kevin Hayes
Defense: Brady Skjei, Kevin Shattenkirk, Vince Pedrie, Brendan Smith, Marc Staal & John Gilmour
Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Alexander Georgiev
And from Steve Zipay of Newsday, these are the forward lines and defensive pairings that we will likely be seeing from the New York Rangers. He divided the forwards into two tweets, so
Forwards: Kreider-Andersson-Gropp; Puempel-Hayes-Zuccarello; Vesey-Chytil-Tambellini; Catenacci-Desharnais-Desjardins
Defensemen: Skjei-Shattenkirk; Pedrie-Smith; Staal-Gilmour
Goaltender: Lundqvist; Georgiev
From a glance, the Rangers seem to have a somewhat older lineup than the Devils. Though, that should come as no surprise, given where the respective teams are in the process of icing competitive teams. There really aren’t any major question marks for their squad to be talked about that I can think of.
What to Watch: The competition I’m probably going to pay the most attention to is who will temporarily fill the 1C role. I imagine that John Hynes will try to give both Pavel Zacha and Adam Henrique the linemate talent tonight to make cases for themselves. They should seek to have more impressive showings than what Marcus Johansson gave in the first game. These first couple games may have some sort of forgiveness for rustiness, but strong first showings can only help players in their competitions.
I am also legitimately confused in regards to why Steve Santini isn’t playing tonight. Did I miss something? Did he get injured? I haven’t seen anything regarding his availability, so I can’t see the reason that Damon Severson - whose job security must be unquestioned - would play twice before a player competing with the likes of Dalton Prout, Will Butcher, and Michael Kapla for the opportunity to occupy the right-side defenseman slot after Severson and Lovejoy.
Aside from that, the other Devils PTO - Tim Erixon - debuts for the Devils tonight. However, I’m not going to pretend that I think he’s worth as much attention as Jimmy Hayes. The Devils already have too many defensemen who can already play to a mediocre-or-worse level, and I don’t think it would serve the team well to add another to the mix.
And with that said, I don’t have anything to say that wouldn’t be a mere restating of what I wrote in the first game preview. The premises for the Devils haven’t changed - (almost) everyone dressed is playing their first game. This is what they should theoretically build off of for the rest of the preseason.
The Goal: Today, almost everyone on the ice is skating in a game for the first time this season. My hope for the New Jersey Devils tonight is simply that they avoid injury, and continue the perpetual preseason process of scraping off the rust. Unfortunately, it will not be a pretty game (again) - but I would still expect the compete level to be high, for the hunt does not wait for everyone to be ready. The quicker players get acclimated to full-speed games once again, the more they’ll put themselves in a position to survive the camp roster cuts.
Your Thoughts? Any talking points I didn’t consider? Are you worried at all about Santini? Who are you watching most closely tonight? I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts in the comments.