Drew Stafford’s Late Goal Helps Devils Build on Solid Preseason

Drew Stafford celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal late in the third to help the Devils improve to 3-0-1 in the preseason (Photo by Rick Schultz/AP Photo)

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The Devils continued to build on their good preseason last night as they defeated the New York Rangers 2-1 thanks to a Drew Stafford goal late in the third period. There was a fair share of penalties in the game, as both teams combined for 13 power plays. The Devils finished night 1/7 on the man advantage, thanks to a Joseph Blandisi goal in the second period. Adam Henrique fired a rocket of a one-timer towards net that Lundqvist wasn’t able to control. Blandisi then found himself in front, and was able to put the rebound past Lundqvist for a 1-0 lead.

The Rangers were able to get the game tied up in the third period after Glen Rock, NJ native, Brendan Crawley, scored on the power play. The game remained tied until late in the third when Pavel Zacha led an odd man rush down the ice. Zacha fed Jesper Bratt who gained the offensive zone, and made a stellar pass to a trailing Drew Stafford, who ripped a quick wrister past Henrik Lundqvist for the eventual game-winner.

Game Notes

  • For someone who was a sixth round pick a little over a year ago, Jesper Bratt certainly isn’t playing that way. He picked up another point, giving him two goals and two assists in three preseason games. He’s also at 62.8 percent possession, granted it’s an extremely small sample size. Point being is he’s played really well in his three games this preseason. At this point, I think it would take a dramatic downturn on his part in any of the final preseason games for him to not make the team. He might not stick around for the entire season but given his play, Bratt certainly deserves a nine-game trial run before the Devils make a final decision on him.
  • Sticking with the theme of Devils young forwards, Joseph Blandisi continued to build on his good preseason with another goal to his point totals. It wasn’t his greatest game at five-on-five, but I doubt it’ll be considered no more than an isolated incident. He performed well in all the games he’s dressed for, and was playing in a lesser role last night than previous matchups. He’ll get a couple more looks before the preseason concludes but much like Bratt, he seems to be in good position to make the team.
  • He may’ve not faced a ton of action last night (that’s a good thing), but Cory Schneider looked pretty solid in net stopping 17/18 shots he faced while playing the full 60 minutes. New Jersey did have some experience on their blue line in John Moore and Steven Santini, but it was mostly a mix of younger guys and AHL players. Still, it was good to see the Devils limit their shots against. If Schneider is to regain his form, keeping their shots against down will be a big part of helping the Devils make legitimate improvements this season.
  • Lastly, it wouldn’t be right to go without mentioning last night’s game-winning scorer Drew Stafford. He’s been good in his first few preseason games and has provided the offense New Jersey was looking for when they signed the right winger. Him and Pavel Zacha seemed to have chemistry with each other and alongside Jesper Bratt (as demonstrated with the game-winning goal setup). Nothing is set in stone yet, but it seems like New Jersey will keep Zacha and Stafford together over the foreseeable future and if they keep it up, they’ll likely start the regular season on the same unit.

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