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game recap

Torts likes Rangers' preseason debut

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Torts likes Rangers' preseason debut
New Jersey Devils 3, New York Rangers 4
NEW YORK -- There are a handful of roster spots on the New York Rangers that are there for the taking. On Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils, a few players made their cases for being on coach John Tortorella's opening-night roster.

Sure, Marian Gaborik wound up being the hero, scoring his second goal of the game in overtime to give the Rangers a 4-3 victory at Madison Square Garden. And yes, the newly acquired Alexander Frolov made a great first impression with a goal and two assists. But it was Brian Boyle, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh who likely gained the most with their performances.

The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Boyle joined the Rangers last season after playing 36 games over parts of two seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. The 25-year-old wasn't the physical presence the Rangers expected, but he made sure to get started on the right foot during this preseason.

Boyle was a wrecking ball on his first shift, delivering three fierce hits. He capped off his first appearance of the season by pummeling Devils center Adam Mair in a fight that brought the crowd to its feet in appreciation and drew an instigator penalty against Mair.

He followed that show of brute strength with a show of finesse and power in the second period when he blew past Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas, used his body to shield the puck, and finished with a beautiful backhand-to-forehand move to beat goaltender Martin Brodeur to put the Rangers ahead 3-2.

The goal was nearly the game-winner, but Devils left wing Zach Parise tied the score with 1:46 left in the third period to force overtime. Still, Boyle's performance was something on which to build.

"It's more about being consistent," said Boyle. "I think I can do things. We have a lot of skill guys on this team. I can use my body to do things that other guys on the team can't. I have to play to my strengths. It is playing hard, playing physical. It's more about the initiative. I can bang guys and create room. Again, it's just one preseason game, but it was a lot of fun to get back on the ice."

Tortorella believes Boyle is very aware of his tenuous position with the team and liked what he saw on Thursday.

"I think Brian Boyle wants to improve," said Tortorella. "I think he improved last year throughout the year and I think he has looked at the people that are here and he knows where he's at. He's had a very good camp."

Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, acquired by the Rangers in the trade that sent Scott Gomez to the Montreal Canadiens, didn't show up on the scoresheet but made his presence felt.

Devils forward Mattias Tedenby twice tested McDonagh by trying to use his speed to get around him. But the 6-foot-1, 222-pound McDonagh wasn't having it, knocking Tedenby off the puck and preventing a scoring chance both times. McDonagh sent the 5-10, 176-pound flying into the end boards with one of the hits.

Tortorella isn’t ready to send the game film of McDonagh to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he was impressed by 12th pick in the 2007 Entry Draft.

"I thought he did some good things and I think there's a little bit of speed coming down his side and there's a bit of a struggle. We expect that," Tortorella said. "He's got good feet. He just has to understand handling the gap, not lunging. He's going to play some more exhibition games and I think he's going to feel more comfortable along the way. He had some really good shifts, but other times it was a struggle coming down the wing."

Prospects Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello had different degrees of success.

The 20-year-old Stepan looked like he was ready for the NHL while centering a line with Gaborik and Frolov and made a great play to help set up Gaborik's first-period power-play goal. Zuccarello, last year's MVP in the Swedish Elite League, was caught flat-footed a few times and only had one good scoring chance. But the 5-9, 170-pound Zuccarello was able to pop right back to his skates after some big hits, one of which came from Devils defenseman and notoriously big hitter Anton Volchenkov.

For the Devils, it was the debut of their top line -- Parise, Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk -- that fans wanted to see. The trio didn't disappoint.

Parise had a goal and two assists while Kovalchuk and Zajac each had a goal and an assist. Zajac's first-period goal that tied the game at 1 came off a gorgeous passing play with his linemates. Kovalchuk's breakaway goal in the second period was the result of a terrific pass by Parise.

It's just one preseason game, but Devils coach John MacLean liked what he saw, even with Kovalchuk moving from the left wing to the right wing.

"I think he looked fine there," MacLean said. "(Kovalchuk and Parise) line up in different positions at different times offensively, sometimes on their off-wing. I thought they were finding each other, sometimes maybe they tried to do a little bit too much. It's early and they'll develop a lot more."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo



scoring summary
1st Period
06:43
NYR
PPG - Marian Gaborik (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Alex Frolov (1), Derek Stepan (1)
1 - 0 NYR
13:11
NJD
Travis Zajac (1) Slapshot - ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (1), Zach Parise (1)
1 - 1 Tie
2nd Period
05:15
NYR
Alex Frolov (1) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE
2 - 1 NYR
12:14
NJD
Ilya Kovalchuk (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Zach Parise (2), Rob Davison (1)
2 - 2 Tie
14:20
NYR
Brian Boyle (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Dale Weise (1)
3 - 2 NYR
3rd Period
18:14
NJD
Zach Parise (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Travis Zajac (1), Colin White (1)
3 - 3 Tie
OT Period
03:12
NYR
PPG - Marian Gaborik (2) Snap shot - ASST: Alex Frolov (2), Dan Girardi (1)
4 - 3 NYR
penalty summary
1st Period
00:55
NJD
Mattias Tedenby  Hooking  - 2 min against  Michal Rozsival
04:45
NYR
Brian Boyle  Fighting (maj)  - 5 min against  Adam Mair
04:45
NJD
Adam Mair  Fighting (maj)  - 5 min against  Brian Boyle
04:45
NJD
Adam Mair  Misconduct (10 min)  - 10 min
04:45
NJD
Adam Mair served by Mattias Tedenby  Instigator  - 2 min against  Brian Boyle
08:40
NYR
Ryan McDonagh  Holding  - 2 min against  Mattias Tedenby
09:49
NJD
Zach Parise  Holding the stick  - 2 min against  Marc Staal
17:55
NJD
Matthew Corrente  Interference  - 2 min against  Alex Frolov
2nd Period
02:31
NYR
Michael Sauer  Hooking  - 2 min against  Adam Mair
07:20
NYR
Ruslan Fedotenko  Interference on goalkeeper  - 2 min against  Martin Brodeur
14:08
NJD
Brad Mills  Fighting (maj)  - 5 min against  Brandon Prust
14:08
NYR
Brandon Prust  Fighting (maj)  - 5 min against  Brad Mills
20:00
NYR
Brandon Dubinsky  Cross checking  - 2 min against  Rob Davison
20:00
NJD
Rob Davison  Slashing  - 2 min against  Brandon Dubinsky
3rd Period
01:26
NJD
Vladimir Zharkov  Tripping  - 2 min against  Michal Rozsival
04:30
NYR
Dale Weise  Too many men/ice - bench  - 2 min
06:43
NJD
Matthew Corrente  Tripping  - 2 min against  Tim Kennedy
09:18
NYR
Derek Boogaard  Misconduct (10 min)  - 10 min
OT Period
01:54
NJD
Rod Pelley  Boarding  - 2 min against  Michael Sauer
goalie stats
Martin Brodeur
SA: 27TOI: 39:51
GA: 3SV%: .889
Jeff Frazee
SA: 10TOI: 23:12
GA: 1SV%: .900
Chad Johnson
SA: 7TOI: 23:08
GA: 1SV%: .857
Martin Biron
SA: 19TOI: 40:00
GA: 2SV%: .895