The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (2-0-0) against the New York Rangers (1-1-0).
The Time: 7:00 PM ET
The Broadcast: MSGSN (Rangers Broadcast + Ken Daneyko)
What’s Going On Across the River?
While the Devils played a split-squad doubleheader on Monday, the Rangers played games on Sunday and Tuesday against the Bruins and Islanders. The Bruins shut the Rangers out, 3-0, while the Islanders fell, 4-2 to the Rangers. If you take a look at the training camp roster below and a look at the lines in the two games the Rangers have played, you will notice that they have had to hold some of their better players out of the lineup so far.
TRAINING CAMP ROSTER IS IN pic.twitter.com/yjzaly3djs— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) September 19, 2023
Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin have yet to play in a preseason game, and Filip Chytil is now hurt as well. Zibanejad should be a go tonight, after returning in full to practice on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Panarin was unable to practice with a lower-body injury, and Chytil had to leave Tuesday’s practice early. Chytil did play on Sunday against the Bruins.
While some of their big names have had to sit out, none of the injuries at hand sound particularly serious. With only four preseason games to go, I would not be surprised if this is a game that determines a lot of cuts for the Rangers, as Peter Laviolette will want his veterans to get more ice time in the final games. So we might see an even split between their higher-end guys and guys trying to make a spot as depth.
The Devils and their Line Groups
In news that is sure to keep Jared happy, the Devils’ first practice group from yesterday featured a top line of Meier-Hischier-Holtz, giving Alexander Holtz the chance to prove he can add something to the top six. This first group features fewer guys down the lineup that I expect to make the team (only Bastian in the bottom six, and only Brendan Smith after the top defensive pairing). However, this is group that I expect to play today. Like the Rangers, the Devils should be finalizing a lot of cuts with tonight’s game. We should find out later this morning which group plays.
The second Devils group features two legitimate NHL defensive pairings, and probably has more bottom six forwards in Nosek and Lazar that I would expect to make the team. Maybe we’ll see one of those lines — like Foote-McLeod-Clarke — get switched into other group for the game, as Nolan Foote and Graeme Clarke need a lot of ice time to compare themselves to other guys looking for a roster spot. I would also like to see guys like Topias Vilen and Santeri Hatakka get a look, rather than being relegated to the press box as fourth practice pairing defensemen.
The Goal Tonight
With all preseason games, the best thing is just to get through it. Yes, I always like to see the Devils win — but now is just the time for the players to get their legs moving a bit faster. To that point, I would like to see Lindy Ruff limit the top line’s ice time for whichever general practice group he has playing today. Give the fringe hopefuls more ice time, and see which ones shine the most.
I do have a selfish desire for this preseason: I really want to see Jeremy Brodeur play. Maybe The Rock would be a better place, but it needs to happen at some point.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Are you excited to see the Devils play the Rangers? Or are you not that interested in a preseason game? Are you watching for any specific position battles? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.