Devils 5, Rangers 4.
1) The Rangers really had a lot of kids in the lineup, and by kids, I mean a lot of Wolf Pack players. And the lineup’s not going to be very impressive when the Rangers go with the minimum of veterans.
2) “We had a young lineup,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said, “and I thought the guys tried to implement what we were talking about structure-wise, but those turnovers in the second were very costly. … This is a game where they’ve got a pretty full lineup there and we’ve got to see what our guys can do against NHL competition. Again, if it wasn’t for that one stretch there, I like how our guys competed, executed.”
3) It says everything about the lineup when in the final minute, down by one, goalie pulled, you’ve got Michael Grabner, Max Lapierre, Nathan Gerbe, Jesper Fast, Brady Skjei and Mat Bodie on the ice.
4) Guessing some cuts coming. No need to have 48 players for three more games, especially when the last one is going to pretty much be the opening-night roster. Henrik Lundqvist is probably going to play half the game in Philly Monday, I’m guessing.
6) J.T. Miller struggled in his first preseason game, and not surprisingly. Unnecessary icing in first half minute – you know, there is a rule that somebody must ice the puck in the first :30 of every game, right? A few other misadventures with the puck. Miller took a lot of draws with Mika Zibanejad on the ice.
7) “Tell you what, I felt pretty good coming into the game,” Miller said. “Probably one of the worst first periods I’ve had in a while. I think I got better as the game went on. … My legs felt good. My passes didn’t get through; I probably had five or six that didn’t get through. Just a couple plays I felt a little rusty on, but I thought I got better and better as the game went on.”
8) “There was room for improvement,” Vigneault smiled. “That would be the polite way to put it for his first game.”
9) Then again, I thought the entire lineup was a bit pass-happy in this game compared to the shoot-shoot-shoot style in the first two games. Which seemed to work pretty well.
10) Some individuals were worse than Miller, and that might be cause for concern. You should be very, very worried about Dan Girardi. Because so far, I don’t see this bounce-back year for which the Rangers were hoping. I mean, his first passes weren’t bad. But around the net, a lot of the same. In both of his preseason games.
11) Second straight unimpressive game for Brady Skjei, this time away from Girardi. Used his wheels to do some good things without the puck. Wasn’t very good with it, IMO. I guess it’s possible he doesn’t have that automatic spot on the opening-night roster.
12) “A young defenseman going through the process,” Vigneault said. “There’s definitely a lot of upside there, but we’ve got to work with him to get his game at a better level than it is right now.”
13) Jimmy Vesey had a tougher time than his debut, too, with less established linemates. Played some point on the power plays. Had one of the coughups that led to Devils goals.
14) I’m kind of ambivalent about Maxim Lapierre’s game so far. Doesn’t appear to be a very good skater. Had two semi-breakaways and never got close to getting a scoring chance on either. Good on draws. Hasn’t been the rat I expected. Still takes too many minors. Not sure if there’s a place for him as a tryout, but he does have the history with Vigneault, so …
15) I don’t have a lot to say about Antti Raanta, or for that matter Magnus Hellberg, other than this wasn’t their fault.
17) Fast created a turnover, then went to the net and redirected Skjei’s pass/shot past Anders Lindback … Because Cory Schneider was a late scratch.
18) Lapierre took a penalty and on the PK – and with Miller and Zibanejad out there – Girardi got drilled by a shot, then he and Bodie allowed Beau Bennett to stand at the top of the crease to bury the rebound.
19) On the second Devils goal, Girardi needlessly chased behind the net, couldn’t get back to close the back door, Bodie went to a knee but couldn’t prevent Hall’s pass get to the far post for a Bennett dunk. No help from Fast in front, either. Uncontested. 2-1.
20) Gilmour scored his second goal, on drop from Ryan Gropp to tie the game. So who needs Trouba?
21) The Rangers’ PK leaked some oil, allowing two Devils PPGs. Fast and Michael Paliotta watched Taylor Hall walk in all alone from the right circle to beat Hellberg, who had just come off the bench. 3-2.
22) Vesey lost the puck to Mike Cammalleri in the circle, Cammalleri tapped it to Pavel Zacha, uncontested in the slot. 4-2.
23) The Rangers don’t have a single Moore this year, but the Devils do, and John Moore scored off a real gong-show shift in the Rangers end with mostly rookies on the ice. 5-2. Moops.
24) Grabner’s speed created the 5-3 goal after Zibanejad was elbowed in the face (penalty to Boucher) then sticked in the face (play on). Zibanejad made the pass back to Paliotta for the shot that went in off Grabner. Zibanejad went up under the crossbar for another PPG, from Miller, another laser.
25) The Rock no longer plays the “You Suck” song after Devils goals. So some of the real jackwagons, including one leather-lunged clown in the crowd, do their own version. Losers. Funny, when they try to do it during a stoppage, the Rock drowns them out with “Everybody clap your hands” or some such noisy thing.
26) But Dancin’ Earl is greater than Dancin’ Larry.
27) The NHL app has taken over and swallowed up all the team apps, which makes it even more difficult for fans to find info on their favorite teams. Not to mention the simplest things, such as a boxscore. Which, you know, is the most basic piece of information a fan needs. Right?
28) Taylor Hall is pretty good. What a Brinks job Ray Shero pulled on that one.
29) Nine more periods. By the way, it’s pretty dumb to have the preseason end on Thursday and the regular season to begin the next Thursday. In a World Cup year, why not just start camps and preseason a few days later? What is that about? Adele at the Garden?
30) Oct. 2. Is it really 38 years since Bucky Dent?
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Mika Zibanejad.
2. John Gilmour.
3. Adam Clendening.
Photos by the Associated Press.