Even in preseason, it’s always a good time to play against the Devils. From big saves against some of their better talent, to long stretches of offensive zone pressure against their goalies, never a dull moment when these two teams get together. Raw results in the preseason don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but there were a lot of positives to take from this game despite the 3-2 loss.

For one, the Rangers are showing glimpses that even without half of their regulars, they are able to sustain long stretches of offensive zone pressure. Crisp passing, better skating, and good breakouts are clearly being emphasized from this coaching staff. As we’ve been doing for the preseason and may translate into the regular season as well, we want to pinpoint three players who I felt impacted the game from start to finish.

Top of the list tonight is Brennan Othmann, who scored a pretty sweet goal off of a broken play and wired a shot past Erik Källgren. But it wasn’t just the last minute goal he scored in an ultimately losing effort, he reads the game very well for a 20 year old. He set up numerous chances to his line mates throughout the game and caused a few turnovers while forechecking and in the neutral zone.

Othmann’s future is entirely up in the air at this point. I am still of the belief that he should probably begin this season in the AHL and just dominate down there. If that release is of any note, he’s going to score a lot of goals down there. But, crazier things have happened in this organization.

The second player who continues to have a great showing and in continuation of the last preseason game is Erik Gustafsson. He scored a goal himself tonight off of a great pass by Braden Schneider–who is definitely developing chemistry already with Gustafsson. These two are going to make the 3rd pair by the looks of it. Gustafsson is just a tremendous skater, and makes smart plays when the puck is on his stick without sacrificing any defense.

This is going to be the perfect kind of compliment for Schneider, who you can tell wants to get more involved offensively himself when it comes to playmaking. This isn’t to make light of anything Zac Jones is or isn’t doing either, it’s just you can tell Gustafsson has played in a Laviolette system before and is putting on quite a show this preseason. The decisions forthcoming on who will make up this defensive corp is going to be really hard.

Lastly, I have to give love to Will Cuylle. You can tell this is a player that Laviolette himself loves. As the game progressed, Laviolette began to give him more and more responsibility and ice time. He nearly scored a great goal too, but rang it off the post. His scoring prowess will come I think with more NHL reps.

It’s clear he’s trusted, as Cuylle was paired with Mika Zibanejad on PK1. He did rather well in that assignment too, disturbing the Devils cycle and keeping the Devils in their own zone a bit as well. As camp moves along, it’ll be interesting to see what Laviolette does. Cuylle is a guy who scored 25 goals in the AHL last year, so that element is certainly there, but can it translate? Certainly can’t wait to find out.

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