The New York Rangers opened their pre-season tonight at the Prudential Center in front of literally dozens of fans and lost 2-1. Henrik Lundqvist started for the Rangers and showed his usual form, only letting in a first period goal to Devils winger Mattias Tedenby, who is fighting for possibly his Devils career right now. Cam Talbot replaced Lundqvist halfway through the game, as planned, and got beat by Devils defensive prospect Eric Gelinas, who blasted one glove side. Dominic Moore brought the Rangers within one in the third period with a backhander, beating Devils goaltending prospect Keith Kinkaid. But the Rangers could do no further damage before the final buzzer.
No reason to overanalyze what is ultimately a single pre-season game with nobody at full speed, but there are things to observe and take away from the game. Keep reading for some of my observations and which players I believe stood out.
Dominic Moore: Other guys might have had better games or stood out more, but first mention of the 2013-2014 season goes to class-act Dominic Moore, who must have felt an unimaginable number of emotions after scoring in his first game of any kind since April of 2012 and his first game as a Ranger since 2006. Anyone who doesn't know the hell that Moore has lived through should take a few minutes to read his tale. The Rangers lacked, among other things, any resemblence of consistent scoring from its bottom-six last season and Moore, who has averaged 10.3 goals per 82-game season over his career, has the ability to address that need. One has to feel extra happy for Moore potting a goal tonight, even if its a meaningless one as far as the standings are concerned.
John Moore: More Moore? More Moore. John Moore's roster spot was never in question but he is one player who could benefit from the "clean slate" mentality Alain Vigneault is employing. Vigneault mentioned Moore as someone who stood out during Sunday's telecast of the training camp scrimmage, claiming to have been surprised by his skating ability. Tonight, Vigneault gave Moore plenty of minutes, including first-unit powerplay minutes. Although only half the roster was used, it's becoming increasingly obvious that Vigneault is taking a liking to the 22-year old defenseman. I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that Moore could play his way into 2nd-pairing minutes and consistent powerplay time.
Cam Talbot: I did not really believe Alain Vigneault when he claimed that Cam Talbot could legitimately win the backup goaltending job and I still am skeptical of how realistic that is, given Biron's likeability, experience, and perhaps most importantly the unlikelihood of finding a trade partner. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised with Talbot's performance tonight against the Devils. It was only half of a pre-season game against many guys who aren't going to be in the NHL this season, but it still was a solid performance. Talbot stood strong despite some miscues from the guys in front of him and the imprint that Benoit Allaire has left on Talbot is obvious; he sets up in a very similar fashion to how Lundqvist does for shots. Talbot was unspectacular but was composed and patient in the net, which is of prime importance for an NHL goaltender and especially one who would play for a team with tremendous media and expectations. If Talbot can hold his own the rest of the pre-season I'll begin to buy Talbot as a potential backup to Lundqvist; even if it's not this season.
Marc Staal: Looked normal, which after all he's been through is notable in itself. It's going to take time to really evaluate how he is adapting to life with the eye injury but considering how bad things once looked it was encouraging to see him fly around the ice like he's always done. McDonagh and Girardi are phenomenal defensemen, but Marc Staal will be the team's best one if his eye allows it.
Justin Falk: Mixed results for Falk tonight in his first game as a Ranger. He has a long reach and some good weight behind his slapshot. That being said, he was partially responsible for Tedenby's goal and seemed awkward and uncoordinated in spurts. Of course, it was his first game after a long summer and he's now learning a new system with a new coach for a new team. The Rangers knew Falk was going to be a project when he was acquired and the team has so many quality defensemen that he'll be afforded time to adjust and learn.
Stu Bickel: And here is where it gets ugly. Bickel certainly would love a fresh start after John Tortorella more or less gave up on him. Bickel did not look good in really any facet of the game tonight. Most alarming, though, was his inability to react to the transition. On multiple occasions Bickel looked like a school bus trying to parallel park when the Devils caused a turnover and went on the counter. One of these instances resulted in a 3-on-1 and required a big blocker save from Cam Talbot. The bulk of Bickel's usefulness lies in his physicality, but Dylan McIlrath is just as mean and a significantly better skater and smarter with the puck on his stick. He's a great competitor and good teammate but I just don't see Bickel beating out Falk or Johnson for the #7 defenseman spot.
Danny Kristo: Traverse City is long gone. Kristo goes from being one of the older, more matured players on the ice to one of the younger, inexperienced guys. And it showed during tonight's first period. He took an offensive zone penalty in his first shift and turned over the puck a couple of times. However, he became more comfortable as the game went on and earned the primary assist on Moore's goal, as it was a rebound from a Kristo shot that found its way to Moore's stick. Did he do enough tonight alone to earn his way onto the NHL roster? Probably not. But it's a good first game for Kristo.
The Rangers play again tomorrow night against the Flyers and I imagine most of the guys who sat out tonight will take part.
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Man am I glad we don't have to listen to the Devils broadcast team again tonight. Joe M was there but way too much Devils talk and way to little discussion of the prospects that were out there. The play by play guy clearly did not know who was out there (I guess it is somewhat understandable) but I wanted to hear more about the prospects. Still very happy to see Hockey! Really want Stephan deal to get done but at least it is not like last year where we were waiting for the whole league to sign!
Was lucky enough to be at the game behind the goal. Moore was explosive! he made a few rushes and plays that were eye-openers! He'll be fun to watch this season. Powe looked slow and ineffective. I don't see him getting a spot. Asham had good jump and showed some hustle. Falk is HUGE! He looked a little slow but made some nice little passes in his zone and didn't seem to panic at pressure. Borque was invisible. Some guy O'Donnell was pretty visible getting to the front of the net and making some plays. Mashinter's fight was OK, but he looked slow and out of position a lot. Boyle was hitting a lot down by us, as was Kreider. I like seeing the physicality from them! Nash and Richards didn't look to have a ton of chemistry. Stepan is a must! Talbot's not making the team, he looked scared and shaky in the 3rd. Bickel...ugh. You can call him a pylon, but I think pylons are more mobile! I was giddy just to see some real hockey! Can't wait to see the hole team together!
Good experience for a bunch of kids and hopefully they've cleared some butterflies now.
I'll give Falk a little more credit than some fans -- yes, he was too slow to react, but i didn't think he was clueless -- on the other hand, he has a number of NHL games under his belt over a couple seasons but he looked like one of the kids seeing the big league for the first time.at some point you have to start building on experience.
it would have been nice to see Kreider-Richards-Nash put something together. they had their moments, and they weren't giving a playoff effort by a long shot, but i would have liked to see a more explicit difference from their skills and experience. no big deal
Mashinter had a good fight. he controlled the fight even if he didn't destroy Janssen. he's got some skills and he's not a one dimensional player at all. he's a good guy to have in the system and should be a decent call up this year.
while it was fun to see some hockey and root for our team, the game looked rather like a practice at times. a lot of it wasn't very cohesive. in any case, it's good to get a look at some of the kids and to give them a chance to compete. otherwise, it's good to get some of the roster players a warm up.
i'm probably going to miss most of it tonight. i look forward to reading everybody's comments to see how we did.
I find it ridiculous Eminger wasn't given a contract by anyone to be a 5th or 6th dman. The guy was reliable anytime he got reasonable minutes. He likely is better than any other 7th dman candidates on the Rangers roster...tho in fairness none of us have seen McIlwrath against NHL level competition yet.
Kristo did not impress- penalty first shift, looking forward to what Lindberg and Fast have to offer tomorrow in Philly. Justin Faulk looked lost most of game, can someone tell me why we didnt resign Eminger?? outside of first line, D.Moore and Brian Boyle, cant see any other forward making the team.
What's with Nash being such a puck hog? On 1 play I saw open man near circle but instead he held into the pick and got a very weak shot off..
Talbot was good. Bourque is a hustler. Richards looked terrible. While NJ got the better quality scoring chances there's def potential on our side. Number 1 is fix the pp
To be honest I wasn't trying to be all that negative. Just wasn't all that impressed with what I saw. One goal. 0-4 on the power play. Jeff, you're right on Moore. He was fun to watch tonight.
Moore played well & so did Kristo. Kristo picked up an assist and 2 yesterday in practice on Boyle's 2 goals..
Wrong! John Moore skated hard and looked solid. Defense took more chances and attempted more shots on goal- D.Moore won key face-offs - Kred-RIchards-Nash had few good cycles down low- all positive signs-
Most important thing I saw tonight was Staal's comfort level.
Remember what I said earlier today about Bickel being 13th F/7th D? Yeah, forget that he sucks.
@gravey94 Nice write-up!
yeah, i don't know what people have against Eminger. he's got valuable experience and, even if he's not a top pair guy, you can pretty much count on him. i don't recall what his cap hit was.
@KevinDeLury haha, this is going to be the same reaction for Richards five games into the regular season when he has three assists and is down on the third line, mark my words
@GLENsatherVSglennDANZIG Next time for sure!