The contentiousness between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils had been on ice in recent years due to the rebuilding nature of both teams — a far cry from the intense, high-stakes meetings between the teams in the golden age of the rivalry spanning for nearly two decades from the mid-90s to the early 2010s.
But Wednesday night providing some kindling to what could become the re-ignition of a fire between the two teams after Devils defenseman PK Subban’s awkward collision with Rangers forward Ryan Reaves.
During the first period of an eventual 6-2 Rangers win, the two converged in the corner of the Devils’ zone when legs became tangled and Reaves fell awkwardly to the ice — his knee buckling on the way down.
Upon a second look of the play, it appeared as though Subban’s foot swept out the left skate of Reaves — a slew foot — to cause the injury.
Ryan Reaves injured in preseason after getting tangled with PK Subban pic.twitter.com/YLvhgrUmqY
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 6, 2021
Reaves — who was acquired by the Rangers this offseason to fill the gaping void of toughness — left the game, but head coach Gerard Gallant did not seem too concerned that it would be a long-term injury. Rather, the 34-year-old is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Veteran Rangers forward Chris Kreider understandable took exception to the incident and immediately began jawing with Subban before trying to fight him in upon the opening face-off. of the second period.
Subban would not oblige, instead, waiting for the opening face-off of the third period to jump Kreider.
So much for going through the motions of a preseason game — and such events won’t soon be forgotten by Reaves or the Rangers once they meet the Devils for four regular-season clashes.
While Rangers forward Kevin Rooney said that “It was great to see that” from Kreider, Gallant tried to ease the tensions.
“Anytime your guy gets hurt, [the players] do something,’’ Gallant said. “I don’t think it was a vicious hit or a slew foot… I don’t think there was any intent there at all.
“I don’t think PK meant to cause the injury. But you know, when you see a guy get hurt and guys step up and do a little bit of a response there, that’s what you want.’’
Especially from a team that had been pushed around so severely by the likes of the Washington Capitals or crosstown-rival Islanders over the last few seasons.