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Preseason Preview #4: New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils

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The Devils and Rangers renew hostilities again tonight in their final preseason match-up this year.

NHL: Preseason-New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New York Rangers (2-1-0; SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter) at the New Jersey Devils (2-0-1)

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG, MSG+2

Oh Canada: The Devils looked solid in their trip to Montreal on Thursday, holding the Canadiens to 29 shots and never trailing through the course of the game. None of the Devils playing in Montreal played against the Rangers the previous night. New Jersey’s penalty troubles lightened a bit, with the Devils only committing six infractions, but they did suffer a bit of a breakdown and ended up killing a 5-on-3 penalty with Joseph Blandisi, Marcus Johansson, and Kevin Rooney in the box at the same time late in the second period. The Devils got goals from Mirco Mueller 51 seconds into the first period, Nico Hischier at 15:30 of the second, and Jesper Bratt, who scored two goals in the third period, including the empty-netter that iced the game. Andrew Gross of the Record tweeted that John Hynes has been impressed by Hischier on the ice, impressed enough that he believes Hischier has forced himself into a bigger role with team due to his play. On the goalie front, Carey Price and Keith Kinkaid both played the whole game, and each man made 28 saves on the night. Kinkaid took a Jeff Petry wrist shot up high that knocked his mask off about three and a half minutes into the game. He looked strong in net, holding off the Canadiens offense to keep New Jersey in front all game long.

OHR: Our Hated Rivals played the New York Islanders last night in a game held at the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ Webster Bank Arena, a game that the NHL didn’t really bother to provide stats on their website for. After besting their old rivals by a score of 1-0 in their first meeting this preseason, the Rangers lost this one 2-1, falling to goals from the Islanders’ Casey Bailey (No relation to Josh) and Anthony Beauvillier. The lone Ranger (Ha) goal was scored by Vinni Lettieri, and assisted by Pavel Buchnevich and Filip Chytil, who has points in two straight games. Ondrej Pavelec played 40 minutes in net for the Rangers and gave up both Islander goals, Bowling Green product Chris Nell took over the remaining 20 minutes. Henrik Lundqvist will be in the net for most of tonight’s game.

The Devils’ Line-Up: Andrew Gross posted up the Devils’ gameday roster last night on his Fire-and-Ice blog. It is as follows:

Goalies – Mackenzie Blackwood, Cory Schneider

Defensemen – Will Butcher, Viktor Loov, Ben Lovejoy, John Moore, Steven Santini, Brian Strait, Colton White

Forwards – Nathan Bastian, Joseph Blandisi, Jesper Bratt, Brian Gibbons, Jimmy Hayes, Adam Henrique, Nick Lappin, Michael McLeod, Blake Pietila, John Quenneville, Drew Stafford, Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha

Steve Santini logged 19:37 of ice time in the Devils’ win over the Canadiens Thursday night. He was a plus-1 on the night and saw the second-most penalty kill minutes on the team. I think we’re all happy to see him in the lineup again.

The Rangers’ Line-Up: Steve Zipay of Newsday tweeted a list of Rangers’ players who will play in tonight’s game:

What To Watch For: I’m interested to see Steve Santini’s performance in this one. It appears the Rangers are rolling their big guns, and that should make for a good measuring stick to see if he’s NHL-ready. Will Butcher is competing for the same top-6 spot from the right-side.

The line of Drew Stafford, Brian Gibbons, and Pavel Zacha had lots of good moments in the previous game against New York, I’d expect for that to be John Hynes’ first line to start out the night.

I like Jimmy Hayes’ style of play. It’s gritty, it’s hard-working. He definitely lacks the sort of scoring touch that his brother, Kevin, is showing flashes of with the Rangers, but he’s a heart and soul guy and at 6’5” he’s the second-tallest guy on the roster (Next to Brian Boyle who has said he will play opening night of the regular season).

Jesper Bratt is in the lineup again tonight, Coach John Hynes seems pretty high on him. Once again, Andrew Gross:

The Goal: For most of the Devils’ guys out there tonight this will be game number two this preseason. I’d expect to see things getting cleaned up from their last performance and while the on-ice product might still be sloppy, there are certainly some key areas to look out for in this one. This game will be telling as to who fits into the Devils’ top-6 defensive pairing role, Santini or Butcher. It will see whether Jesper Bratt can continue his successful trend since early in camp. My hope is to see these questions answered, as well as to see a fully healthy lineup leave this game.

Wrapping Up: I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts. Anything I missed? Please let me know in the comments. What do you think of Coach Hynes’ comments on Hischier? Bratt? Who’s the Devils’ sixth defenseman? The seventh?