Another preseason game, the same result for the Devils. New Jersey dropped its second straight preseason game, losing to the Rangers, 4-3, in overtime at Madison Square Garden last night. There were some good and bad things from last night’s game, so here’s a rundown of the action, numbers-style:
1. The “Liberal Line” Meets Expectations – The new line of Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Ilya Kovalchuk, dubbed the “Liberal Line” by Bergen Record reporter Tom Gulitti for their glut of left-wingers, tallied seven points and scored all three goals last night. Each player looked comfortable last night, with each scoring a goal. The line also backchecked well, and they caused several turnovers on the forecheck. Despite the solid performance, Kovalchuk saw room for improvement.
2. Jeff Frazee Steps Up – For the second night in a row, a Devils’ rookie goaltender looked sharp during preseason action. Frazee, who didn’t put up great numbers with the Lowell Devils last season (2.62 goals against average, .920 save percentage in 58 games last season) looked very good in the third period and overtime last night. He stopped nine of ten shots, making several tough saves during his time in net. I’ll give him a pass on the Marian Gaborik goal, which was a rocket that was perfectly placed. But for those questioning the goalie depth within the organization, the past two games have shown the potential for the Devils’ young goalies.
3. The MSG Broadcast – It was great to hear Chico’s voice last night. Yes, he’s usually annoying, and he can grate on people. But it just let me know that meaningful hockey is one step closer, and that put me in a good mood.
And now, the negatives:
1. Where art thou, Brian Rolston? The Devils’ left-winger, who spoke yesterday about the trade rumors surrounding him, managed three shots in 16:11 of total ice time. Three shots? That’s pathetic. Stephen Gionta had three shots on net, and he had less than ten minutes of ice time last night. Not only did he show nothing to the coaching staff, he also didn’t audition well for another team. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like Rolston will stay with the team because of that albatross of a contract.
2. Sloppy Penalties Kill The Devils – Last night, the Devils took 11 penalties, giving the Rangers seven powerplay opportunities. The Rangers’ scored half of their goals last night with the man advantage, and while 2-for-7 is a great number for the penalty killers, it’s something they shouldn’t have to do every night. I understand it’s the preseason, and play might be sloppier than usual, but there’s no excuse for taking that many penalties.
3. De-fense! De-fense! Where was the Devils’ defense last night. The team got burned for some really good scoring chances, and both Martin Brodeur and Frazee needed to make some good saves. The team needs to shore up that defense, but that should be something that comes with a full lineup.
The Devils will try for their first win of the preseason tomorrow against the Rangers at home.
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