New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers, 7 pm
Madison Square Garden, Newark, New York
TV: MSG+ Radio: WFAN 101.9 fm, 660 am
Dainius Zubrus – Travis Zajac – Jaromir Jagr
Damien Brunner – Adam Henrique -Michael Ryder
Mattias Tedenby – Andrei Loktionov – Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter – Jacob Josefson – Cam Janssen
Andy Greene – Peter Harrold
Anton Volchenkov – Marek Zidlicky
Eric Gelinas – Adam Larsson
Goaltender: Martin Brodeur
With another clash against their biggest rivals on tap tonight, the Devils come into Tuesday night’s contest at Madison Square Garden fresh off of a 5-0 win over the Nashville Predators.
The Blueshirts have been hot as well, as they sport a three game win streak and a 7-3 record over their last 10 games.
The question becomes, how can the Devils beat the Rangers? This is a vastly different team than we saw at Prudential Center earlier in the year. Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan are both back in the lineup and playing well. Brad Richards has been excellent and Henrik Lundqvist seems to have found his groove again.
This is a very different Rangers team than they were under John Tortorella. Alain Vigneault has this team playing aggressive hockey that has led to more goal scoring. Certainly though, that has come at the expense of the defense at times, as the Rangers don’t quite have that “block every shot” mentality.
So, let’s break down a couple of plays from their last game against the Florida Panthers and try to get a feel for what we may see tonight and how the Devils can pull out a win.
This is a dangerous unit right now. With young speedsters like J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider in the lineup, there is some speed. This goal in transition off of a turnover shows exactly the kind of skill level the Rangers have right now.
As we see in the image, the Panthers tuned the puck over, Kreider gains the zone, but waits for help. Ryan McDonagh alertly jumps into the play and sets everything up. Krys Barch tried to cancel out McDonagh and got himself out of position which allowed Kreider to find open space for a pass. The biggest issue here was that the Panthers chased. Barch played himself out of position and no one picked up Kreider which allowed for the opportunity. For the Devils, they’ll need to keep the Ranger forwards in front of them, but also be aware of defensemen entering the play. The Rangers are a team that will make you pay if you cough up the puck at neutral ice. New Jersey must limit the turnovers.
Florida scores here on the power play. The biggest thing to take away here, is that Kris Versteeg is just sitting in the slot with no one really covering him. They had a man on a body down low, but Versteeg was uncovered. He partially fanned on the shot, but Alexander Barkov was able to bang it home. What the Devils need to do is put bodies in front of the net. Get rebounds, get the defense scrambling and good things can happen.
Some thoughts for tonight’s game:
1) The Rangers are red hot too.
The Devils draw a really tough opponent tonight. One it’s a divisional rival. It’s their main rival. They’re on the road. Plus, they’re getting a team coming off some very solid wins. They beat Florida, took care of a Columbus team on the road and routed the Penguins. This might not be the best time to get the Rangers but normally the Devils raise their level of play for quality opponents.2) Worrisome home/road splits.
The Rangers have been really good at MSG this year. In six games, they’re averaging nearly three goals per game and have allowed just nine scores this year on home ice. The Devils road figures are frightening. They’ve played 11 games away from New Jersey and have only scored 19 times. On the flip side, they’ve allowed 33 tallies which is an average of three goals allowed per game. They need to start to swing this trend the other way if they want to start collecting consistent points on the road. 3) Brad Richards is back.
Remember when he was one of the laughingstocks of the league last year? He’s not this year. In 17 games, he’s got six goals and nine assists to go along with a plus-5 rating. The Devils really don’t worry about matching up against another team’s top line, but I can’t imagine we’ll see Andrei Loktionov or Jacob Josefson’s line go against him very much. It’ll be up to Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique to shut down No. 19.Prediction: Rangers 3 Devils 1
The Devils have learned to win hockey games over the last few games. However, those contests were against weaker opponents with noticeable flaws in their personnel. The Rangers pose a much more rounded opponent. While I think they will lose, they’ll play hard and be in it until the final few minutes. While it will mean no points, I expect this game to be a useful building block that will propel them to play better against high quality opponents.
“It’s great, I think the effort’s been there but obviously the result hasn’t been there but I think it was tonight. The guys played a full 60 minutes, even when we were ahead going into the third, we wanted to play the right way and finish the game the right way and I thought everybody played great.”
“It’s funny, we were slumping a little bit, but we felt we were playing the right way, these games are always intense, there’s always that rivalry, I think it was a good matchup at the right time”
- Adam Henrique on the team’s 4-0 win.
Andrei Loktionov, Adam Henrique, Michael Ryder and Dainius Zubrus all scored for New Jersey, en-route to a 4-0 win over the New York Rangers at Prudential Center.
For the Devils, the home ice was a welcome respite after a 0-3-2 road trip as New Jersey won their first game of the season, with a strong performance over their rivals.
Cory Schneider was superb in net, stopping all twenty-one Ranger shots, to notch his first shutout in New Jersey.
We’ll have more to come, including analysis and quotes.
By Dave Turner and Jeff O’Connor
With the season upon us, it’s time to see how the Devils stack up with the rest of the Metropolitan Division. With plenty of talent across the board, the Metro division should be one of the most competitive in the league.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Goaltending/Defensive issues aside, this team is still the class of the division. The only way they won’t finish first is if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both miss a considerable amount of time. As long as Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t melt down, they’ll be just fine.
2. Washington Capitals – The Caps struggled early on in 2013, but once they figured out Adam Oates’s system, they played excellent hockey down the stretch. Their X-factor is Braden Holtby. If he can take another step towards being a top-flight goalie, they’ll be fine. If not, they could easily slip.
3. New York Rangers – This team may struggle out of the gate with a new coach, but they’ll rebound in time to make a push for the top. With a better offensive system, look for Rick Nash and Derek Stepan to have an excellent season together. Things may get interesting if the team isn’t able to lock up Henrik Lundqvist during the season.
4. New Jersey Devils – Picking the Devils to finish fourth almost seems sacrilegious, considering where they’re being picked everywhere else. They lack a big-time scorer, but they’re a much deeper team than they were last season. Cory Schneider will emerge as a top-ten caliber goalie.
5. New York Islanders – They took a huge step forward by making the playoffs last season, but over the course of an 82-game span, their goaltending and defensive deficiencies will show. That being said, they’ll score a lot of goals and be a fun team to watch. It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if they finished in the top-four or even snuck in as the wildcard in the Atlantic Division.
6. Philadelphia Flyers – I’m still searching for the answer as to how this team got that much better from last season. They replaced Danny Briere with Vincent Lecavalier, which is a minor upgrade. In net, they didn’t improve much. Though Ilya Bryzgalov was wildly inconsistent, he actually had some good moments. Ray Emery and Steve Mason are not going to cut it.
7. Columbus Blue Jackets – The Jackets made a great run at the playoffs in 2013, but they’re still a year away. They can grind you and as long as Sergei Bobrovsky can put up somewhat similar numbers to the ones he posted last year, they’ll be competitive.
8. Carolina Hurricanes – If the Canes are able to get some consistent goalie play, they might finish a lot higher than the bottom. Cam Ward is coming off of a major injury, so it’s not out of the question to see a lot of Anton Khudobin. They won with the Alexander Semin gamble last season; can they win again with Mike Komisarek?
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Even with the losses of guys like Iginla, Morrow and Cooke, the Penguins have plenty of youth ready to contribute on the third and fourth lines. Bringing back Rob Scuderi should provide a huge left to their D? Winning the division won’t be the issue…will Marc-Andre Fleury show up for the postseason?
2. New York Islanders – Bouchard and Clutterbuck will add a bit more grit to this young squad. Their young forwards will only get better. Nabokov is a known commodity in goal but the bottom two pairings for the Isles defense leaves a lot to be desired. If they want to go further than last year, they’ll need to pick up a blueliner at the deadline.
3. New York Rangers – Alain Vigneault’s system will certainly open things up offensively. How will the defensive side of things go? Well, they’ll have the same six back on defense so expect them to be just as sturdy as they were on John Tortorella. Their forwards are mostly the same as well. Expect the Rangers to have a better season, solely because Brad Richards cannot be worse than he was last year.
4. Washington Capitals – The pickup of Mikhail Grabovski is going to make Caps fans quickly forget about Mike Ribeiro’s production. Their roster mostly stayed intact and it appears their young goaltender is on the upward trend. Braden Holtby showed flashes of being a top-notch goaltender. One can only think he’ll take another step towards reaching that potential this year.
5. Philadelphia Flyers – Adding Mark Streit will immediately strengthen a weak Philly backline. If Vincent Lecavalier can find the fountain of youth, the veteran absence Danny Briere won’t be felt as much. As always for them…it comes down to goaltending. Can Ray Emery come close to reproducing his magical start with the Blackhawks last season? If so, they’re in good shape.
6. New Jersey Devils – Given the hand GM Lou Lamoriello was dealt, he did a very solid job patching up the top few lines. Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder and Jaromir Jagr won’t singularly be able to replace the productivity of Ilya Kovalchuk but that trio should make them a deeper squad. Can Cory Schneider push Martin Brodeur to play at a high level?
7. Columbus Blue Jackets – The Blue Jackets showed they are on the rise last year, but that was in a wide open West. Welcome to the East. Adding Nathan Horton will help, but he can’t carry a team. They just don’t appear to have the depth right now at either end of the ice, and it’s highly likely that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can’t repeat his 2013.
8. Carolina Hurricanes – Their defense has a ton of question marks and their bottom two lines don’t appear reliable at this point. Cam Ward will have to be much better than last year’s 2.84 GAA.
There’s no doubt that the first year of the new four-division format will make for some exciting playoff races. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if spots two through seven are separated by something like six to eight points. This division will be close and every game will be important.
The first game action of the season is in the books, and it was a bit sloppy at times, but the Devils came away with a 2-1 victory over the Rangers.
Some notes and observations from the game:
- Adam Larsson logged top-pairing minutes and looked pretty good in doing so. He even delivered a crushing hit on “Mr. Atlantic Division,” Aaron Asham. I thought he looked poised, and even made some nice passes on the power play.
- Cory Schneider started his Devils career with a strong effort. He came out and made some nice saves, including a tremendous glove save of Brad Richards. He did seem to be fighting the puck a little bit later on in the second period, but all-in-all it was a good performance for the new Devils netminder, who was replaced in the third period by Keith Kinkaid.
- Speaking of Kinkaid, he was solid as well. The goal he surrendered to Dominic Moore came off of a huge rebound that he played right into the slot. That’s the kind of mistake that he just can’t make. After that, he settled in and made a couple of nice saves to preserve the lead. He showed nice poise by shaking off the goal and playing well the rest of the way.
- With the news of Damien Brunner being invited to camp, the pressure is on for anyone looking to establish some playing time on the bottom two lines. Mattias Tedenby took a nice step towards solidifying that with his first period goal. Rostislav Olesz also got the assist on that goal, so a solid night for both of them. Tedenby showed some speed at points, but consistency has always been his issue. Can he continue this throughout the preseason?
- I thought that Andrei Loktionov was the best player on the ice for stretches of Monday night’s game. He has the speed and ability to be a productive player. He has such a motor on him, and he’s always looking to make a play. The former L.A. King is strong on the puck and he seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. It’ll be interesting to see the development of Loktionov over the course of the season.
- The 3rd period goal by Eric Gelinas is exactly what I’ve been talking about since camp opened. He has a quick release and a very strong shot. If he’s going to make this team, a large portion of it will be because of what he brings on offense. He was relatively ineffective on the power play though, which is where he needs to excel. Positionally, he was good, but not great in the defensive zone.
- If I had to give Reid Boucher’s preseason debut in New Jersey a grade, I’d go with a C-minus. Boucher didn’t create much offense, and he took a penalty in the first period that negated a power play. He also seemed to have a little trouble battling with bigger bodies in the corners, most notably Stu Bickel in the first period.
It might not count in the standings, but tonight we’re finally treated to some Devils hockey for the first time since their April 27th loss at Madison Square Garden.
For some players, this is their first major chance to prove that they belong on the roster. For others, it’s a chance to get some live game action and work towards being ready for the season.
The lineup for today features a range of players, from some who are locks to make the club, to some who will most certainly be in Albany to start the year.
Here are some points for today’s game:
The first look at Cory Schneider
Tonight, number 35 will be between the pipes for his first-ever game in New Jersey. Schneider will most likely play the first two periods before giving way to backup Keith Kinkaid. Normally, a backup goalie starting a preseason game wouldn’t be such a big deal, but the battle for the number-one spot in net begins tonight.
There’s no doubt that the team will be evaluating Schneider and Martin Brodeur with every chance that they get. It would most likely take an injury to Brodeur to keep him from starting opening night, but after that, those minutes are up for the taking. If the former Canuck can get off to a great start, he will put a lot of pressure on Brodeur to match him.
That being said, it’ll be a great chance to get a look at Schneider for the first time as a Devil. Preseason games always have the chance of being sloppy, and he could be tested early and often. He’s known for his excellent rebound control, and he might need it tonight.
I’m sure there will be some nerves for Schneider early on. Though the game means nothing in the standings, he’ll be looking to prove to the coaches that he is as good as advertised.
Three players with a lot to prove tonight
1. Mattias Tedenby- Another year, and another chance for the Swedish winger. He’s not a lock to make the roster and now is the chance for him to prove that he deserves some ice time during the regular season. Tedenby is basically at the end of the line in terms of his Devils career. He’ll be looked at with a microscope in the preseason. A point or two, or even some solid offensive play will go a long way for Tedenby in the eyes of the coaches.
2. Reid Boucher- Yes, that Reid Boucher. As i’ve said before, the young winger is not expected to make the opening night roster. Nothing is written in stone though, and there’s no way that the team wouldn’t take notice if Boucher finishes with a few points and plays well. If he wants to at least get himself into the conversation for a roster spot, now’s the chance.
3. Eric Gelinas- I believe that Gelinas still has the best shot of any defensive prospect to make the team out of camp. Tonight will be a big first step towards that, if he’s able to play well. He’s paired with Alexander Urbom, so the two young defensemen will be looking to make a splash. Sure, Gelinas needs to be strong in his own end, but he’ll most likely get some power play minutes tonight, and that is where he can start to set himself apart. Shoot Eric, Shoot!
Is this the year Adam Larsson takes the next step?
Adam Larsson was pretty good last year for the Devils, but pretty good wasn’t exactly what the Devils had in mind when they drafted Larsson fourth overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Swedish d-man needs to take a step towards becoming a legitimate top-pairing defenseman. With another offseason to bulk up and soak in what he’s learned, this third NHL season for Larsson should be one where he begins to mature into a big-time player, capable of logging major minutes.
He hasn’t show much offensive upside yet, and with a different power play this year, he might get some power play time. Larsson was envisioned as a two-way player capable of being a power play quarterback. We haven’t seen that yet. He’ll most likely get some power play time tonight, so there will be a chance for him to impress in the offensive zone.
What can we expect tonight?
It’s the first preseason game, so the players are getting their first taste of full-contact play. Conditioning is still a work in progress for many, but it’s the young players that will have the most to prove tonight. For anyone that is a lock to make the team, it’s just another chance to get up to game speed. For anyone on the fringe, this is a do or die opportunity to show the coaches that they belong.
No prediction for this one, other than that we will see a hard-fought game from those who have a lot to prove tonight.
The NHL announced a January doubleheader at Yankee Stadium to conclude their “Stadium Series.” The games are as follows:
Rangers at Devils on Jan. 26, 2014
Rangers at Islanders on Jan. 29, 2014
Here’s an excerpt from the press release:
The two games at Yankee Stadium complete the four-game 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ scheduled for next season. On Jan. 25, the Anaheim Ducks will play the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium. On March 1, the Chicago Blackhawks will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field.
“The innovative nature of the Stadium Series affords the opportunity to have all three NHL teams in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area play, outdoors, at one of the most-celebrated stadiums in the world,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We’ll be able to create a multi-faceted, multi-day experience for our fans, and we thank the teams, Coors Light, the New York Yankees and Yankee Stadium for their support of this memorable NHL event.”
We’re on record as saying back in April that these rumored games feel like nothing more than a cash grab for a league that just lost half of its season to the lockout. Plus, while Devils season-ticket holders will get the first crack at seats for the Jan. 26 game, that doesn’t mean they’ll be anywhere close to your regular ticket price. The Devils have managed to keep most of their tickets relatively affordable, but by converting one of your 41 home games to a psuedo-Winter Classic, the NHL is jacking up the cost of that seat by probably at least 30 to 40 percent. Also, I can’t imagine the Rangers are thrilled with being a visiting team for both of these games. There’s a greater chance for injury due to the poor lighting and quality of the ice surface and they don’t get the gate form either event. Not that they need it — but I’m just saying.
Now for the positive, Devils fans will get to watch their team in a signature event, outdoors at Yankee Stadium against the rival Rangers. Also, with the theme of throwback jerseys in outdoor games, there’s a really good chance the Devils will wear some variation of their Christmas sweaters, which is awesome. The thought of that alone is pretty cool. The other great part is the fans that can afford to go will get the chance a really unique event in a different setting or possibly scalp their season ticket for who knows much above face value.
In the end, like most things in the NHL, there’s good and bad sides to this and it just depends on which way you want to look at it. For me, I see a money-hungry league obsessed with piercing the national consciousness ahead of and after the Olympics. I also see a diminished product put on a national stage on a dead sports day (outside of the Pro Bowl), which should draw pretty big ratings. And I guess any sort of business/ratings boon for the NHL is good for the hockey fan in me, right?
That it will be a Devils home game is a huge get for the franchise. Not only will the Devils get all the gate proceeds, but I believe Devils season-ticket holders also get more of the available tickets. We’ll have more reaction when it’s official later in the week.
Even though the Devils’ 2013 season is over, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.
On May 2…
1997- Scott Niedermayer and John MacLean each score goals, and Martin Brodeur makes 21 saves in New Jersey’s 2-0 win over the New York Rangers in game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
2003- Grant Marshall scores at 11:12 of the third overtime, boosting New Jersey to a 3-2, Eastern Conference-semifinal win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Marshall’s goal sent the Devils to the Eastern Conference finals and also ended the longest playoff game in Devils history.
Marshall’s goal and celebration:
Last month, we told you the NHL was planning a series of outdoor games in 2014 to capitalize on the first post-lockout season, the Olympic buildup and the Super Bowl that will be hosted by New York and New Jersey. Today, the news (kind of) became official):
The NHL will likely release the rest of the schedule, including the Yankee Stadium games, shortly.