The day is finally here. Some nine months since their last, historic meeting, the New Jersey Devils (4-1-3) and the New York Rangers (4-4-0) will play each other for the first time in 2013 tonight. The last time the Devils and Rangers faced off was game six of the Eastern Conference Final, a game that ended New York’s season when Devils’ center Adam Henrique shoveled a loose puck into the net in overtime to send New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Final. The puck will drop at 7 p.m. at Prudential Center. Here are the game notes and preview:
Rivalry Renewed: Regardless of what has happened since the Eastern Conference Final ended last spring, there is no love lost between the Devils and Rangers. Since May 25, Devils fans have relished in the fact that they ousted the top-seeded New York Rangers, and tonight, the Rangers will look for whatever sort of revenge they can find to get back at the Devils.
Back To Winning: New Jersey snapped a four-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon in a 3-0 win over the New York Islanders. Early on, the Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins have taken a jump out on the rest of the division, and the Devils can take over first place again tonight with a win and a Penguins loss.
Henrique, It’s Over: After the words that have made the Devils’ center famous last summer, Henrique will be flipping places with Travis Zajac on the top two lines for New Jersey tonight. Zajac will center Dainius Zubrus and Ilya Kovalchuk; Henrique will be between David Clarkson and Patrik Elias as the Devils hope to re-live that playoff magic from last season.
Almost Stanley Cup Hangover? After their impressive regular season and run to the Eastern Conference Final, it’s been a tough go for the Rangers coming out of the lockout. With a .500 record, they have played far from good hockey, and the pressure is going to start to mount if they don’t start winning games and fall further behind in the division race. Anything else that can bother the Rangers? A loss to the Devils could fill that slot.