The top lines for both teams highlighted last night’s preseason clash between the Rangers and Devils, but the final bow belonged to Marian Gaborik and the Blueshirts, winning 4-3 in OT on a power-play goal from the all-star wing.
+ The Money Line cashed in three times last night with Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac and Zach Parise all notching goals. The wings spent time on both sides of center Zajac and showed some of that good chemistry Kovalchuk hinted at when he spoke to the press earlier this week. The highlight was a half-rink-length breakout pass from Parise to Kovalchuk to spring him for a breakaway goal. If the Devils get some secondary scoring and can keep that line intact, it could be among the league’s best this season.
+ Rookie Derek Stepan looked the best skating between Gaborik and Alexander Frolov last night. Erik Christensen assumed the position at the start of the third and didn’t really do much with his time there. It’s still early in the preseason, but when you look at all the centers in camp, it feels like the top-line role is Stepan’s to lose. He’s the most skilled of any of the candidates, he’s the most likely to improve and if he plays with the poise he showed last night -- such as drawing the PK defenders to him in the slot before sliding a pass to Frolov, setting up Gaborik’s first goal -- there seems little reason not to slot him on Line 1 to start the season. A few bad games and that all changes, but right now, his stock is soaring.
+ Though the Hobbit Wizard didn’t land on the score sheet and got bounced around a little, Mats Zuccarello showed some skill last night. Weaving around defenders and threading some passes to his teammates, he looked like a NHL-capable player. I’m interested to see ole Bilbo Blueshirt in action again and see if he can make the leap to looking like NHL-ready player.
- Eric Gelinas had a rough night. First, he lost track of Gaborik on the PK, allowing an easy tap-in goal to put the Rangers up (1-0). Then he turned the puck over at the blue line and watched Brian Boyle steamroll his way to the net for the Rangers’ third goal. It’s just one game and he’s still just 19, so the showing isn’t indicative of much long term. It seems that he still has some ground to cover before breaking into the NHL though. Matt Taormina also had a bad giveaway that led to a Ranger goal.
- Marc Staal looked a little rusty, finishing minus-2. It’s to be expected given his delayed start to training camp, and I don’t think anyone’s too worried. Besides, last night Kovalchuk, Parise and Zajac could have made anyone look bad.
For those interested in yesterday’s rookie game, the Rangers’ team site has the breakdown.
Larry Brooks was impressed by Boyle, particularly his physical play, following a 2009-10 season in which Brooks says Boyle played like a cream puff.
Also from the Post, Brooks breaks down the tryout of Ruslan Fedotenko, who didn’t make much of an impression at the Garden yesterday.
The Record’s Andrew Gross writes on all of last night’s positives for the Blueshirts, and quotes Stepan as saying he’s ready for the NHL now.
Jesse Spector of the Daily News has more on Boyle and discusses today’s coming cuts a little bit.
Blueshirt Banter offers their breakdown of the game.
Mark Everson writes that the Devils are excited about their top two line combinations.
Tom Gulitti writes that there are a few different stories on why rookie Jacob Josefson didn’t suit up last night, one of which says the young center is fighting an injury. Also in the write-up, head coach John MacLean discusses the debut of prospect Mattias Tedenby and defended Gelinas and Taormina.
Kovalchuk, Zajac and Parise feel there’s still room for improvement, as seen on Fire and Ice. Scary.
In Lou We Trust looks at last night’s game, particularly the Devils’ seven penalties.
You can breathe now, Devils fans. Chere also says Kovalchuk was unhurt after an awkward fall in the third period.
TSN chatted with Kovalchuk about the summer drama and the start of the season.