The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio Stream - WFAN.com
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (1-0-0) vs. the New York Rangers (0-0-1). This will be the last time these two teams will play each other until December 20. For the viewpoint from the other side, please check out Blueshirt Banter.
The Last Devils-Rangers Game: Well, it was on Wednesday. Up in Albany, the Devils shot the lights out of the Rangers. However, they needed overtime to win it 2-1. Matthew Ventolo did a great recap of the game here at ILWT. For the other side, here is Bryan Winters' recap at Blueshirt Banter.
The Goal: Chances are whoever is in the mix for the NHL team that wasn't playing on Wednesday will be playing tonight. The goal therefore remains the same, it's just the personnel that will change. The main questions to be answered tonight: Will this group of Devils pick up on what DeBoer has been teaching? How will the special teams look with different Devils in the roster? How will the players look on their own? Who will make the biggest impression on Peter DeBoer and the coaching staff? The answers to those questions are what Devils fans should be looking for.
Please continue on after the jump for a few more thoughts about this game.As of this writing, it is unknown what the lineup will be for the New Jersey Devils. I'd like to think it's the first group of players who practiced on Thursday, since there are several NHL hopefuls in that group and haven't played yet. Those who played on Wednesday practiced later in the day, incidentally. Yet, as Tom Gulitti clearly stated in his post at Fire & Ice, that is not the case. It will be revealed on Friday morning.
There is confirmation of two Devils playing. The first is goaltender and legend Martin Brodeur. As Gulitti reported on Thursday at Fire & Ice, Brodeur will not only get the start but he is likely to play the entire game. It'll be interesting to see who backs him up tonight. If it's Johan Hedberg, it may be a tell that Moose will get Saturday's game in Long Island. I could be wrong, of course. With a game on Saturday and then a back-to-back-to-back next week, there will be some goaltending rotation.
The second confirmed Devils is defenseman Bryce Salvador. The last time he played hockey in any fashion it was on September 28, 2010, as Tom Gulitti noted in this post at Fire & Ice. What Devils fans should be looking for in how Salvador performs is his physical play. He's not swift, he's limited on offense, and his passing isn't anything to write home about. What Salvador has been known for is hitting people and being in position to make plays on defense. Given that it's been nearly a full year since he last played hockey, he has to demonstrate he can do both in this preseason. Tonight will be his first test. Let's hope it goes well for him.
Beyond those two, it's unknown who will really play. That's not the case for tonight's opponents: the New York Rangers. According to Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants, this will be the active roster for the Rangers. While they will be without Henrik Lundqvist, the expected set of forwards has more regulars (e.g. Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan) on it than Wednesday's night roster. Gross noted that a few players are getting second looks, so pay attention to the following: defensemen Brendan Bell, Tim Erixon, and Michael Del Zotto; and forwards Carl Hagelin and Dale Weise. Those five will definitely be competing for jobs, so out of the whole group, I think they will be the most dangerous. They have something to prove to difficult man that is John Tortorella. Brodeur, Salvador, and the rest of the Devils who will play tonight may get a tougher game. Or not, since it's preseason and who can tell who is and isn't in form.
Lastly, tonight will be the first home appearance for the New Jersey Devils since April 10, 2011. I can't wait to be back at the Rock, sitting in my usual seat in Section 1, Row 16, Seat 5. If you get a chance, come out and see the Devils play the Rangers for what will be the cheapest opportunity to do so this season.
Anyway, what do you expect out of tonight's game? How do you think Brodeur and Salvador will perform tonight? What do you make of the Rangers' lineup - will they put up a better performance than they did on Wednesday? If you're going to the game, are you as excited as I am to check out this game, regardless that it's a preseason contest? Please feel free to leave your answers and other comments on tonight's game in the comments. Thanks for reading.