Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bell's late goal edges Devs in rematch

It's only preseason. But you wouldn't know it based on the two games the Rangers and Devils played. The Devs took Round One in overtime courtesy of Patrik Elias. Last night, the Rangers returned the favor at The Rock thanks to Brendan Bell's late goal to edge the Jersey hosts 4-3 in a game that had plenty to get fans of both clubs pumped.

The Hudson rivals combined for seven goals in a seesaw affair that featured a scrap between ex-Devil Mike Rupp and Eric Boulton. Boulton was a pest throughout, again emphasizing why Lou Lamoriello signed the ex-Thrasher. He's always drove our team nuts. Finally, Rupp accepted his challenge and had a decided size edge even though Boulton did a decent job late. That's the kinda spunky exhibition it was with the physical play ratcheting up in a wild third.

The Devils rallied back from a 3-1 deficit. Jacob Josefson cashed in a Brad Richards turnover and went top shelf on Martin Biron. After having the play taken to them the first half by a Ranger lineup that included Richards, Marian Gaborik, Wojtek Wolski, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Ruslan Fedotenko, Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello up front. In particular, Stepan's line stood out with superb forechecking while the Richy top line looked cohesive. Callahan played with Boyle and Fedotenko, who as predicted, wore Erik Christensen's former No.26. Feds' old number since Brad went back from the cool 91 he donned in Big D to his original 19 that he likely wears for Steve Yzerman.

Encouraging for the Devs was the play of hot prospect Adam Henrique, who flourished with Petr Sykora and Mattias Tedenby. Henrique opened the scoring with an early power play goal that showed off his skills- combining with Adam Larsson and Ilya Kovalchuk and then flying into the slot where he pulled off a nifty backhand deke upstairs on Biron. Highlight reel. If there's one noticeable difference with the Devs, it's their power play thanks to the point tandem of Larsson and Kovalchuk, who later snapped a perfect pass from the bright Swede that tied it. With the addition of Sykora, who's shown flashes of his A-Line days, it looks like Lamoriello might've struck gold. If the former '00 Devil Cup hero sticks, that gives them another skilled forward with experience that can create and finish. Who would you rather have on a third line? David Clarkson or Sykora? He played right wing and wouldn't be a bad choice if Henrique centers Tedenby.

The Blueshirts answered quickly thanks to a nice play by Richards, who took a Gaborik feed and then abused a Devil before centering a pass off Larsson past Martin Brodeur. Before you knew it, a great shift from the Stepan unit saw D-Step roof one over Brodeur's glove for two in a 81-second span. The Rangers also connected on the power play thanks to another smart decision from Richy Rich. Instead of being fancy, he passed for Callahan in front forcing a juicy rebound that Gaborik cashed. We hope to see more North American style during the season. Simple is better. Callahan did a great job screening. He also had a nice one-time try from the slot prior that Marty gloved.

Though Brodeur could've had the Stepan shot, he still made a few sparklers when his younger squad was under siege. At one point, the Blueshirts led in shots 20-8 before the Devils came on late to close the gap. I think the final totals were 31-26. Confirmed. Nice to see my memory still works. :P Brodeur went the distance in his debut making 27 saves while Biron permitted three on 13 shots before Chad Johnson turned aside the remaining 10 before getting reassigned today with Cam Talbot to Connecticut.

The Devils had an apparent tying goal waived off after Kovakchuk redirected a Larsson shot past Ocho Cinco. Palmieri was called for goalie interference. Though it looked more incidental which still would've disallowed the goal even though Ilya vehemently protested.

Here are last night's rosters:

NYR F: Boyle, Callahan, Fedotenko, Gaborik, Hagelin, Newbury, Richards, Rupp, Stepan, Weise, Wolski, Zuccarello

D: Bell, Del Zotto, Erixon, McDonagh, Sauer, Valentenko

NJD F: Boulton, Henrique, Josefson, Kovalchuk, Mills, Palmieri, Pelley, Sestito, Steckel, Sykora, Tedenby, Zharkov

D: Fayne, Greene, Larsson, Salvador, Taormina, Volchenkov

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