Adam Larsson scored his first-ever goal on Monday night.
Unfortunately, however, it didn't count for the Devils.
“Yeah it hit my skate,” Larsson said of the Rangers’ first goal, which came after Brad Richards attempted to center the puck, only for it to find Larsson’s skate and then the back of the net in the first period. “I can’t blame Marty (Brodeur) for that one. It was all my fault.
“S--- happens, but I need to learn and not do the same thing next time.”
Larsson, the team’s first-round pick (No. 4 overall) in the 2011 draft, made up for the early gaffe though, quarterbacking the power play like a seasoned veteran. He slid a nice pass along the ice to Ilya Kovalchuk, who buried a one-timer into the back of the net during a two-man advantage late in the second.
“The way he managed the game was very impressive,” said Kovalchuk.
But as it turned out, the rookie’s finest play on Monday night was one that didn’t count.
Stationed at the right point, Larsson faked a shot before sending a beautiful feed to Kovalchuk in the high slot, and the Russian sniper deflected it by Chad Johnson with 2:22 remaining in regulation. Unfortunately, the goal was waived off due to goaltender interference, but that didn’t take away from the fact that the Swede showed tremendous vision on the play, one that maybe a handful of players in the NHL would have the presence to make.
“You know that one-touch pass to me from that side was a really tough play to do, and he’s doing that on a consistent basis all the time,” said Kovalchuk, who finished with a goal and two assists.
“He sees the ice really well and he can shoot the puck as well as anybody. That’s what makes him very dangerous. But it’s only two games so let’s wait until the regular season. Don’t give him too much love.”
It’s hard not to. For just a teenager, Larsson plays calm and poised well beyond his 18 years.
“I feel pretty comfortable, but i’m stressed sometimes,” Larsson said. “I’m not used to this.”
Talking to the media?
“No,” Larsson pointed. “Out there. On the ice.”
Head coach Peter DeBoer was happy with the way Larsson responded from the early gaffe.
“It didn’t seem to rattle him. He’s pretty calm and poised,” DeBoer said. “I think that’s one of his special qualities. You’re right when something like that happens to a young defenseman, you never know how he’s going to react. I thought he did some really good things tonight, especially on the power play.”
Exactly. While it’s still the preseason, with Kovalchuk and Larsson manning the points on the power play, the Devils’ man-advantage, the same one that was 29th-best in the NHL in 2010-11, has a chance to be special this season -- assuming Larsson makes the team of course.
Brodeur, the future Hall of Famer who has won more games than any other goaltender in NHL history, said that’s not going to be the last time Larsson messes up in front of a netminder’s crease in his career.
“I told him no big deal. Don’t worry about it. S--- happens,” Brodeur said. “It’s not the first time he’s gonna kick a puck in his career, unfortunately. It’s unfortunate, but that’s part of the relationship between the d and the goalie.”