Judging anything from one preseason game -- in this case, the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Devils o Mondy night -- is difficult, as is sorting out at this early stage which bubble players will make the cut for opening night. There are five games left.
Here's one veteran's perspective.
"This is the best way to get the rust off," said defenseman Dan Boyle, 38, who made his Garden debut as a Ranger. "Certain things I'm not used to, I'll correct them. I've got a job to do offensively but I've got to take care of defense, too . . . We're all competitive guys; we'll fix some things. Some guys had a good start."
The Rangers did rally after falling behind 2-0 and 4-2, only to lose when Adam Henrique zipped a long shot past Cam Talbot with 51.7 seconds left in the third period.
The young player who fared the best was J.T. Miller, who had two assists. One set up Ryan Malone (who led the team with four shots), for his first goal as a Ranger on the power play. Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast also scored. Fast's rising slap shot from the slot knotted the game at 4 at 17:30 of the third.
But one area that disappointed Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was the defense.
"For the most part, I was expecting a little bit more," he said, "as far as execution with the puck, gaps -- we were a little loose -- and you've got to make those little pop plays with the puck so you can come out fast.''
Vigneault did not mention him, but among those who struggled was Mike Kostka, a candidate for the seventh defenseman.
The next game is in Chicago on Friday and the Rangers will use a different squad, including Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello and another infusion of youngsters.
Notes & quotes: The Devils outhit the Rangers, 28-15, and had just eight giveaways to the Rangers' 19 . . . Vigneault divided the ice time pretty evenly, with John Moore leading at 21:58 . . . Henrik Lundqvist stopped 11 of 13 shots in 29:29, with the lone goals on deflections in the first 3:29.