Last night, the Rangers opened their pre-season with a 5-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. A tight contest, where the Rangers twice came from behind to tie the hard-hitting Devils, it was the goaltending and defense that failed the Blueshirts on this night. Unlike what we often saw last season, the Rangers had no trouble scoring, with several of New York’s prospects adding zest to the offense.
Henrik Lundqvist let in two goals he would like to have back early in the first period. A Chris Kreider mistake led to the Devils’ Reid Boucher scoring unassisted at only 59 seconds into the game. Two and a half minutes later, Michael Ryder deflected Eric Gelinas’ shot through Lundqvist and it was 2-0.
The Rangers were able to come back quickly though, getting their first goal of the season at 4:43 of the first, when Carl Hagelin went to the net and stuffed in JT Miller’s shot past Scott Clemmensen. Four minutes and 55 seconds later, with New York on the power play, Miller once again contributed–passing to Ryan Malone for the team’s first power play goal of the pre-season. At the end of the first period the score was tied 2-2.
After a scoreless first half of the second period, both teams changed goalies, with Cam Talbot coming in for the Rangers. It was the defense that broke down in front of Talbot that led to the Devils’ third goal at 16:14 of the second period. It was a shame, because Talbot was quite sharp until then.
The score was 3-2 to start the third, when the Rangers had several great chances early on the power play. The teams traded penalties, with Hagelin taking a foolish slashing penalty at 13:25. New Jersey jumped on the opportunity, taking only 14 seconds to score–Gelinas wound up and bombed one from the point through traffic.
New York came back once again, however. This time it was Chris Kreider, at 15:00 in the period, strong on the puck, who beats the new Devils’ netminder, Keith Kinkaid. Kreider’s goal was very impressive; he had a man all over him the entire time he was going to the net.
The Rangers began to swarm the New Jersey zone, and it paid off. New York prospect Jesper Fast pots the Rangers final goal of the night, to tie it up at 4 goals a piece, with just 2:30 left in regulation.
It looked like the game was going to OT, but with just 52 seconds left in the tilt, Talbot does not see the puck coming at him and Adam Henrique’s shot gets past the New York goaltender. All the air came out of the building and the Rangers, who had been building momentum, coming back twice against a team that often does not give up much. Granted this was not the usual Devils’ defense on the ice, but the Rangers’ comeback was impressive.
Thoughts on some of the players:
–Miller was incredibly impressive in this game. Not only did he provide offense, he also blocking shots, played on the PK, took face offs, and created chances on a line with Ryan Bourque and Hagelin.
–You can see the talent oozing off of Kreider, but he still needs to play a more measured game. Both of his penalties last night were unnecessary.