Preseason Game 4: Rangers host Devils

Tonight, the Devils visit MSG for the first time in the only preseason meeting between the Hudson Rivals. For the Rangers, it’s the fourth game of exhibition with two remaining.

On Saturday, they were 5-2 losers to the Islanders at Bridgeport in Connecticut. The Islanders fielded mostly their regulars while the Blueshirts didn’t. The result was predictable. Mathew Barzal had two assists and Anders Lee scored a power play goal in the Islanders win. Ryan Pulock also scored, and Anthony Beauvillier had two goals. Josh Bailey had a goal.

Peter Holland tallied for the Rangers on a delayed penalty, although they changed it to Cody McLeod. Who knows? It was hard to tell. Ryan Spooner had a power play goal at the end of the second period, beating the buzzer with 0.7 seconds left.

Mats Zuccarello set it up with a beautiful fake shot and dish across that Spooner was just able to snap home. Zuccarello played his first game so far. He still overpasses too much. Something he acknowledged in a recent story I read. He wants to shoot the puck more and be better defensively. That’s definitely an area he can improve on entering the last year of a contract that pays him $4.5 million. Will he be here in March? That remains to be seen.

Also making his first appearance was top defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He looked good registering a pair of helpers in the loss. But did get used as a screen by Beauvillier on a rush in which the Islanders forward beat Brett Howden. Howden was a little better in his second game, even being used to center Filip Chytil in the third. Chytil showed his usual flashes of speed and shiftiness, but still isn’t a finished product. He needs to work on the defensive side and improve on faceoffs. It’ll take time.

There was chippy play throughout. The Rangers didn’t back down. A Cal Clutterbuck late hit got a strong response, leading to penalties. Brandon Crawley got involved during the scrum along with McLeod, who earlier fought Scott Mayfield. It was good to see the team sticking up for each other. An area coach David Quinn wants to see unlike former bench boss Alain Vigneault.

Tonight is the team’s second home game. And once again, we are here. I’ll review what I can later. Tonight’s lineup has more regulars including Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast, Zuccarello and Marc Staal. Vinni Lettieri also will dress as will Lias Andersson. Steven Fogarty will also get another look. Brendan Smith is in along with Fredrik Claesson, who he’s battling for a spot.

Unlike the other night when Alexandar Georgiev and Dustin Tokarski split duty, starter Henrik Lundqvist will play along with Marek Mazanec. Unless something drastic happens, I still think it’s Georgiev’s job to lose for the backup. Though I could see Tokarski making it interesting.

See you later.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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