At a glance: The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils open the 2013 NHL preseason with a clash between division rivals. Both teams are coming off disappointing seasons last year; the Rangers were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs in the second round while the Devils missed the post-season entirely.
There will be some new faces added to the rivalry as well. Gone are the days of epic feuds between coaches John Tortorella and Pete DeBoer. The Rangers now have the much more affable Alain Vigneault behind the bench. Meanwhile, the Devils are now without their top forward in Ilya Kovalchuk, who bolted for the Kontinental Hockey League this summer, though they added former Ranger Jaromir Jagr.
First-line debut: Chris Kreider, Brad Richards and Rick Nash will comprise the Rangers' top line Monday night when they take a trip across the Hudson to face the Devils at Newark's Prudential Center. Kreider, who was inconsistent in 2013 after a sizzling NHL debut during the playoffs of 2012, has been impressive in the opening days of training camp while Richards is looking to turn the page on a devastating 2013 and start the year with a "clean slate."
They meet again: Vingeault probably thought he'd never have to answer another question about Cory Schneider again, right? Not so fast. Despite escaping the never-ending goaltending saga in Vancouver, the two men will meet again Monday when Schneider suits up for his first game as a New Jersey Devil and gets the start against his former Canucks coach. Schneider was acquired by New Jersey in a surprising draft-day trade in June. Keith Kinkaid will back him up, according to the Bergen Record, while Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot are expected to split time in nets for the Rangers.
Veterans out: Neither veteran stars Patrik Elias nor Jagr will play Monday for the Devils. Though Elias told reporters Monday morning that he was uninjured and simply taking a day to rest, Jagr is battling a "lower-body" injury suffered in the first day of camp.
No time to Staal: After a derailed attempt to return during the playoffs last spring, Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is back in the lineup after an off-season to recover from the harrowing eye injury that sidelined him for half of last season.
Staal, who was struck in the eye with a puck in a game against the Flyers in March, is aiming to play four of the six exhibition games during the preseason.
OK to play: Rangers Defenseman Stu Bickel, who missed Sunday’s scrimmage with a back injury, is expected to play. Should he be unavailable, the Rangers will use defensive prospect Dylan McIlrath to replace him in the lineup.