The New York Rangers opened their preseason schedule against the rival New Jersey Devils in Albany with only a few regulars in the lineup. The performance was underwhelming overall, but with the few regulars that were in the lineup to fall 2-1 in OT against many of the Devils regulars is not a bad result. The cliché is that in preseason the results don’t matter and it is true in terms of the scoreboard, but the play of individuals is very important to their chances of making the roster. A few Rangers stood out tonight while some were invisible and others were just awful.
Artem Anisimov: Arguably the Rangers best forward tonight. Excellent skating and showed some more strength than last season. Strength has been the biggest knock on Anisimov so if he can improve that expect even more from him this year.
Dylan McIlrath: After a rough first period McIlrath had an excellent game in all areas of the game. During the second period was where McIlrath really stood out blocking shots, taking the body, having good defensive positioning and reading the play well in terms of pinching down offensively.
Dale Weise: Weise was very active tonight in taking the body and creating things with his strength in the offensive end. Scored the Rangers lone goal on a play where his hit in the corner won the puck, then it was played to Anisimov who made a nice pass out front that Weise finished. Fight against Brad Mills was ugly as Weise got handled and he looked bad on the Devils’ winner when he couldn’t handle Steve Eminger’s bad pass in his own end.
Goaltending: Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot were both excellent tonight. Lundqvist was very solid in his positioning and was the only Ranger to show up for much of the first period. Talbot made multiple excellent glove saves before getting beat for the winner.
Brandon Dubinsky: Dubinsky didn’t do a whole lot in terms of generating chances, but he was clearly stronger than last season and that bodes well for the Rangers.
Erik Christensen: If that was Christensen’s case to keep his spot on the team, then he should be cut and quickly. He was awful tonight in all aspects of the game and in all situations. Time to end the experiment with him and move on.
Michael Del Zotto: Del Zotto did little tonight to show that last season's struggles were behind him. The turnovers and wide shots that plagued him last season were still there, though he was physical at times in his own end.
Sean Avery had a solid first period with work taking the body and drawing a penalty, but he saw little ice the in the second and had a couple glimpses in the third.
Tim Erixon was not overly impressive tonight in his bid to make the team, but the good news for him is Michael Del Zotto was worse.
Brendan Bell was solid, especially in the first period when he showed little to no hesitation in firing shots at the net.
Carl Hagelin showed off his speed, but little else tonight, while Ryan Bourque had a few nice moments though defending an oncoming Ilya Kovalchuk was not one of them.