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Thursday, September 23, 2010
Kovy to 'debut' as Devils battle Rangers

By Mike Hume

The Devils come to the Garden to open the Rangers' preseason tonight. With the game airing at 7 p.m. ET on MSG-Plus, here are five factors to keep your eye on.

The Money Line
Apt, no? Ilya Kovalchuk is swimming in it. Zach Parise is playing for more of it with a new contract. Travis Zajac may have to be traded in desperation because the Devils lack cap space. If, as expected, they retain Zajac and this line plays to its vast potential, then the troublesome investment in Kovalchuk will have paid off handsomely. Tonight is expected to be their first test together, after Tom Gulitti reported the trio will suit up at MSG.

Tedenby’s time to shine
The Devils’ top prospect, Mattias Tedenby, didn’t suit up Tuesday, which likely means he’ll make his preseason debut at the Garden tonight. If New Jersey's top two lines hold, it appears Tedenby is battling for a role on the third line. How he handles himself in the physical game could tell more about his future than his skill with the puck.

It’s an A-Bomb, from Ur-Bom!
Like his fellow rookie Jacob Josefson, Devils D Alexander Urbom impressed Tuesday night in Philly. Though he may not get a sweater tonight, a second viewing in short order could bode very well for Urbom’s roster chances. A solid showing tonight could bode even better.

The Forward Formerly Known as MZA
Mats Zuccarello mercifully shortened his last name (dropping Aasen, much to the delight of NHL jersey makers), and he can continue to shorten his odds of making the Ranger roster with a strong showing tonight. Seeing how he handles himself on the smaller ice against a sound defensive team like the Devils should be a good indicator as to whether last season’s Swedish league MVP is NHL-ready. The New York Times has more on the Norwegian Hobbit Wizard.

Stepan’s time to step up
Rangers rookie Derek Stepan struggled centering the top line in yesterday’s scrimmage, according to the Post's Larry Brooks, but he still may have the most talent of any pivot in camp. Head coach John Tortorella is expected to try some different players in the top C spot throughout the night. It will be interesting to see if Stepan -- or anyone else -- can seize the opportunity.

While the Devils’ lineup is still up in the air, here’s the roster the Rangers will put on the ice, via the Post:

Defense: Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Michal Rozsival, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer, Alexei Semenov

Forwards: Marian Gaborik, Alex Frolov, Brandon Dubinsky, Erik Christensen, Brandon Prust, Brian Boyle, Tim Kennedy, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Derek Boogaard, Dale Weise, Ruslan Fedotenko

Goalies: Martin Biron, Chad Johnson

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