Devils take preseason game 4-3 over Rangers


In the first preseason game at MSG, the Rangers fell short in a entertaining 4-3 loss to the Hudson rival Devils. It was technically the Devils’ third game of exhibition with a split squad on Monday resulting in a home win on a overtime winner from top pick Jack Hughes, and a loss at Montreal.

Among the notables who took part for the Blueshirts were newcomers Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba. Igor Shesterkin also saw his first action after relieving Alexandar Georgiev. Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Brady Skjei, Lias Andersson and Boo Nieves also played. So did Libor Hajek.

On the flip side, the Devils played Nico Hischier, Miles Wood, Nikita Gusev, Jesper Bratt, Brett Seney, Damon Severson, Sami Vatanen, Ty Smith, Nathan Bastian and Cory Schneider, who got the first two periods of the game.

Goal scorers included Hischier (tip in), Mikhail Maltsev, Gusev and Seney for the Devils. Panarin tallied in his Broadway debut on a wicked one-timer on the power play, but as noted in a previous post, left the game due to a mild groin strain. The other Blueshirts who scored were Micheal Haley and Lias Andersson.

It was a rough night for Skjei and Trouba. The much discussed new Rangers top pair was awful, finishing minus-three. They were bad throughout and got victimized. In particular, the third goal from Gusev was butchered by both Trouba and Skjei following a turnover. The fourth from Seney wasn’t much better. They both were caught out of position.

Hopefully, they’ll get it sorted out. Given the state of the NYR blueline, it’s imperative that Skjei and Trouba succeed. Otherwise, all bets are off.

At least Fox showed why they are so high on him. He looked poised with the puck by making several good reads. Both in his end and on the attack, Fox was smart with the puck and did a solid job.

Libor Hajek also didn’t do anything to hurt himself. At this point, he’s on the roster barring something unforeseen.

Until Tony DeAngelo wakes up and re-signs, he’s only hurting himself. It also won’t help the team, who can use the good skating, offensive defenseman as part of a revamped right side. That spot is open for now. Maybe a Yegor Rykov claims it.

For now, your top two left D are Skjei and Marc Staal. Hajek would likely be number three in the early going. We’ll see if anyone can surprise in camp.

Georgiev got the first part of the game. Due to how poor the D was, none of the three goals he allowed was his fault. Hischier scored on a nice tip after being unchecked during a sustained forecheck.

The goal from Maltsev was a complete screw up by Brendan Smith and partner Brandon Crawley, whose blind pass put Smith in a bad spot. Maltsev abused both Smith and then Georgiev for the goal of the game.

Filthy. A perfect Trouba pass across to Panarin got the Rangers on the board. He went high bar on Schneider with a stunned Kreider looking back at him in amazement. The power play could be fun to watch if Bread Man is ready for the start of the regular season.

The Devils responded to his goal by taking advantage of a turnover and lousy coverage from Skjei and Trouba. That resulted in key Russian import Gusev finishing for a 3-1 lead.

Some hard work from former Hurricane grinder Greg McKegg resulted in him feeding a wide open Haley for a tap in that made it 3-2. McKegg is a gritty depth forward with character, who doesn’t have much skill. But just outworks opponents. I liked the signing due to what I saw with Carolina during their run. He could be plugged in on the fourth line or an extra forward. That type of experience is never bad to have around a young roster.

Seney restored the two goal lead for New Jersey by beating Shesterkin due to more bad defense from the top pair. It’s better left unsaid.

A nice effort from the combination of Kravtsov and Boo Nieves resulted in Andersson cutting it to 4-3 on a rebound past Devils replacement Evan Cormier. I liked the move by Kravtsov to throw the puck on goal from a sharp angle. It led to a rebound with Nieves getting one chance and eventually Andersson cashing his in.

Kravtsov got some time with those two and a bit with Kreider prior to Panarin leaving. He had a breakaway on Schneider, but wasn’t quite able to beat him. He’s wearing number 74 in camp.

Trailing late, Kakko had some good pressure behind the Devils net. He tried a wrap-around on his backhand. That seems to be his go to move with his strong skating. It almost tied it. He took a stick tap from Severson and limped to the bench. I don’t think it’s too serious.

Shesterkin made one very good save through traffic on a redirect and heard some, “Igor, Igor,” chants.

One Devil who helped his cause was John Hayden. Acquired from Chicago for John Quenneville, he made a couple of nice blocks. That kind of hustle is appreciated.

That’s all for now. Cya 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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