The Rangers crossed the Hudson to MSG West and skated off to a 3-2 win over the Devils.
I am not about to watch the NHL Network replay of the Versus telecast at 4am so if I miss anything, feel free to fill in the blanks.
*New Jersey Transit stinks. My train flew to Secaucus, then crawled to Newark so I missed the opening puck drop. I rushed inside and was riding that ridiculously long escalator when Rob Niedermayer opened the scoring. Then, by the time I ran over to my section, Torts had already called a timeout. Dude must have been pissed. I know I was; I never miss the puck drop. Stupid Jersey.
*On that note, sorry to the few decent Devil fans (I know you are out there) but for the most part, there are some serious IQ points missing - perhaps burned away by the toxic waste in Jersey. All game long I had to listen to how much Sean Avery sucks (he didn't play), how much Scott Gomez sucks (traded to Montreal), how Henrik sucks (who has a winning record against Mmmmaaarrrtttyyy, and stopped 25 of 27 shots), and how the Rangers suck. The final one often coming at the end of the familiar Potvin Sucks whistle. Very unoriginal. And then they started with "94 and never more" chants - something else ripped off from us (it's 84 and never more, right Islander fans? hahahaha). Just stop it.
*A guy on the train said he thought there was 20% Ranger fans in the building which is a fair assessment with his addendum to the statement - there weren't that many but we were louder than the Devil fans.
*The Blueshirts got a pair of goals by their young blueliners. MDZ swooped in to grab a loose puck and bang it in an empty net on the power play to tie the game at one. His opportunism is certainly impressive but it is also blatantly apparent that he needs to add some muscle. The bigger, stronger Hobey Gilroy scored the eventual game-winner on a shot you know Mmmmaaarrrtttyyy wants back. Fatso had a clear look at the shot and it just slipped past him. It certainly worked out for Gilroy as he collected his first NHL goal. Who could have guessed that these kids would light the lamp like this, and so early? But let's not get ahead of ourselves, it is a long season.
*As for the other defensemen, they all seemed dreadful at times. Dan Girardi took a bad penalty, Marc Staal was beat left and right, Rozy seems lost on the ice and Wade Redden had a nice shot on Hank in the waning minutes of the game. Honestly, though, prior to that Wade wasn't so bad, he did draw a penalty and made a few stops. The Blueshirts really need to add a defensive defenseman something fierce.
*The third Ranger goal of the game was the second power play goal of the game. Ales Kotalik managed to actually get his booming shot on goal (barely, it did go off the post) and New York tied the game at two. Aside from that moment in the sun, Alice was horrendous at even strength and that line with him, Arty and Rico (Fata: Enver Lisin) has zero chemistry. I wouldn't mind seeing Alice bumped to the fourth line when Avery returns, see if Aves can re-ignite the fire in Arty that we saw in the preseason.
*The fourth line was actually pretty good. They dumped the puck deep and mucked around, keeping the Devils on the boards. Boyle also got some prime PK time, including the kill on that 30 second Jersey 5-on-3. Still, Bettsy would have been better.
*The top line was the best at getting scoring chances, even if they couldn't convert. Dubi was a force, the Devils scrambled to keep up with Gabby and Prospal did well lugging the luck around.
*That leaves Higgins, Cally and Dru. Cally was the best of the three but they all had their moments, good and bad.
*As for the Devils, David Clarkson is turning into a bigger, tougher version of Claude Lemieux. He is annoying, he is obnoxious and as an opposing fan I hate him but he pops up in good spots and presses the action. Tonight it turned into assists on both Jersey goals. Still, he's a minor leaguer (Avery! Avery! Avery!).
*Fatso was bad. Like I mentioned, he had a clear lane to see Gilroy's shot. He seemed to be off balance most of the night, stumbling around the crease. While his play wasn't in regular season form, his acting clearly was as he did his best flop to draw a interference call on Cally. Doesn't Mmmmaaarrrtttyyy know that it is the Winter Olympics coming up, not the summer. He will have to wait until 2012 to get his well-deserved diving gold.
*One last thing before I get to the stars - the Rock has those great mid-level luxury boxes, but several of them were empty and many were sparsely populated. If they know that a company isn't going to fill the box, why don't the Devils get those tickets back and give them to charities? Or, why don't they treat some of the diehards to the top-flight service. You know, there certainly aren't a lot of diehards, why not give them a nice bonus for their passion?
*Oh, and why the hell do they have doubles of the Daneyko and Stevens banners? There is no reason to have the banners facing each other. If they need two more banners to go up to level things up, how about honouring Johnny Mac and Bruce Driver? Or are they waiting for Mmmaaarrrtttyyyy and Scott Niedermayer to retire?
*PHW Three Stars
3-David Clarkson - two assists.
2-Michael Del Zotto - one goal and one assist.
1-Matt Gilroy - game-winning goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-MDZ and Hobey - They get a co-star for their offensive prowess. MDZ potted two points but was deservedly limited in his minutes. Hobey had his first goal and some nice plays up and down the ice but there is still room for alot of improvement in his own end.
2-Clarkson - I'm not sure where Langenbrunner was because Clarkson seemed to be the only Devil forward to play like he cared. Paul Martin was an unheralded - yet hated - opponent as well.
1-Brandon Dubinsky - Dubi has done well to disprove the notion that he would rest on his laurels now that he got the big-money deal. He was relentless and on the ice in all situations. Top line center.