NEWARK -- According to John Tortorella, the kids -- Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller -- are all right. But after a stinging 3-1 loss to the Devils Tuesday night in which the power play was 0-for-5 and New Jersey capitalized on early mistakes, the Rangers coach torched players without naming them, saying they were "scared and tentative."
In fact, he predicted that the two rookies are "going to probably take some people's jobs."
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Now at 4-5 to start a shortened season, Tortorella said special teams "let us down," especially with a man advantage for eight minutes on three separate penalties in the first period around Adam Henrique's goal at 5:00. The Rangers are 3-for-35 on the power play, including 1-for-14 on the road.
"It's been a struggle and it hurt us again," Tortorella said.
"We have some guys who are really playing hard, and we've got some guys that look scared," he said. "Very happy with Kreider, I thought he played well. Miller was hard on the puck and did some good things. We'll see where we go with our lineup, but I'll tell you right now, I'm not waiting. We have some guys that are very tentative, very careful, and we don't play careful hockey."
The opportunistic Devils (5-1-3) took a 2-0 first-period lead on the first of David Clarkson's two goals. Martin Brodeur made 24 saves and the Devils' quick defense limited any Rangers' second chances.
At 13:09, the Rangers blew a major opportunity when Andy Greene drew a double-minor for high-sticking Arron Asham, and came up empty. At one point, Marc Staal was robbed by an out-of-position Brodeur. "I don't know how he got over there," he said. "He must've anticipated the pass. I had a hole, it hit the bottom of his pad.''
Clarkson extended the lead with 53 seconds left, when Nash lost the puck in his skates in front. "A combination of us being a little sloppy and me not coming up with saves," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 19 stops. "[Brodeur] made the saves when he needed to. It's not the start we were looking for personally, and as a group."
In the third, Lundqvist stopped Jacob Josefson on a 2-on-1, but the Devils cashed in on a power play. Clarkson jumped on a rebound, and didn't get all of the puck as Del Zotto arrived late, but enough to get it by Lundqvist at 2:53.
Kreider then scored his first regular-season goal -- he had five in the playoffs. In his first game after missing four with a bone chip in his ankle, he snapped a high, short side shot from just below the left circle at 6:28 of the third. Miller had two shots and was a plus-1 in 14:25.
"Kreids had a really nice goal and shot," Brad Richards said. "J.T. held his own, for sure."
If that continues, Tortorella surely will not hesitate to make changes.