NEWARK, N.J. -- After over a year away from the NHL, Dominic Moore began his second tour as a New York Ranger on a high note, with a goal in the Rangers’ 2-1 loss to the Devils and high praise from his new coach.
Considering how long it’s been since his last NHL game -- April 16, 2012 -- and the painful part that came between, the 33-year-old Moore deserved the accolades after Monday’s first exhibition game of the season.
Moore, who did not play last season following the death of his wife, Katie, knew timing and game pace would be an issue, but he didn’t show it as he made a nifty play to backhand the puck past Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid in the third period. It was the Rangers’ only goal of the game.
“I was very impressed,” new Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of Moore’s performance. “For a guy who’s been off for a whole year, to come out the way he did, to talk to players the way he did on the bench ... I give him full marks, full credit for getting himself ready to play. He came tonight and had a real good game.”
Moore, who inked a one-year, $1 million deal in July, was a bit more modest, admitting there are still elements of his game that require fine-tuning. He anticipated as much after the lengthy absence, which made Monday’s game a little different from others in years past.
“I think you’re a little bit more unsure just because you haven’t played in so long, what to expect. There were some good things, and some things I just know will come,” said Moore, who previously spent 2003-06 with the Rangers. “I’m very patient and realistic about it.”
In terms of conditioning, however, Moore seems to have no complaints. In fact, he’s totally on board with playing back-to-back games Tuesday against Philadelphia.
Moore is one of only three players besides goaltender Cam Talbot, who played 21:34 after replacing Henrik Lundqvist in the second period and Darroll Powe, who will be back in the lineup again Tuesday.
That was by design, Moore said, as he wants to hasten the adjustment period as much as possible this preseason.
“I think that’s good for me. Day by day it’s a matter of getting the timing and feel back. I know what I can do, I know how I can play, I know what my game is, it's just a matter of getting comfortable,” Moore said. “Every game there’s adjustments and the more games I can play, the better it will be.”
A veteran of eight years, Moore came into camp prepared physically and mentally. He also came in with realistic expectations. Learning the style and concepts of a new coach and adapting to a new team will take time, but Moore seemed confident those things will come.
“I feel good. I feel strong, I feel fast. Skills feel good,” he said. “All the adjustments, both as a team with the systems and just the feel of the game, will just get better each game I play.”
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Young winger Danny Kristo, who picked up an assist on Moore's third-period marker, was impressive in his preseason debut. The 23-year-old forward, who skated with Brian Boyle and Marek Hrivik, was recognized by Vigneault after the game for his play.
"I really liked his game," Vigneault said of the former University of North Dakota standout. "He showed some real poise and some really good offensive abilities."