While today may be full of changes and the Rangers and Devils may be a part of that, when they square off tonight at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) it’ll be just like nothing ever changed as a rivalry gets recharged.
The Devils head into tonight’s game with a 2-1-0 record against the Rangers this season, but trail the East leaders by 10 points. The Devils have been cruising of late thanks to the stellar play of Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk has been putting in a Herculean, almost MVP-like effort this season as he’s evolved his game from being straight offense into being a very well-rounded game. Hey, whoever thought you’d see Kovalchuk killing penalties?
Kovalchuk along with Zach Parise gives New Jersey a dynamic one-two punch. Add in stellar rookie Adam Henrique and surprise 20-goal scorer David Clarkson and you’ve got a Devils team that isn’t like the Devils you got to know in the past. These Devils get it done by scoring goals. With Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg, New Jersey has the oldest goalie tandem in the league but they’ve got all the veteran wiles to continue being frustrating to deal with.
The Rangers, meanwhile, just keep on keeping on. They’re coming off a stirring overtime win against Buffalo on Saturday that saw Ryan Callahan continue to build his legend in New York City scoring the game-winner. Callahan along with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards gives the Rangers a multi-talented trio of guys that can beat you offensively. Toss in a little bit of Derek Stepan up front and Michael Del Zotto on the blue line and you’ve got a lot of problems to deal with.
The one place where the Rangers have the Devils beaten is in goal. I know, it sounds blasphemous to put down Martin Brodeur but with the way Henrik Lundqvist has played this year, King Henrik is the toast of the town now. Lundqvist is near the top of all the goalie stat categories and on nights where New York’s offense slumps, Lundqvist locks it down to make sure the Rangers can win one-goal games.
One guy you can probably count on not seeing in tonight’s game is Rick Nash as the Rangers are reportedly out of the running for the Blue Jackets winger. Anything can happen on deadline day which means we could see sudden changes before these teams drop the puck tonight.
CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.
The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.
The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.
The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.
The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.
The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.
Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.
The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.
The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.
“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”
Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.
TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.
The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.
“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”
The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.
Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.