The Hudson River rivalry resumes tonight at the Prudential Center. Tonight’s contest between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers will be installment two of four scheduled for this year. The Devils defeated the BlueShirts 3-1 back on February 5 at the Rock, and will conclude their regular season with two of their final four games at Madison Square Garden in late April. But to tonight first!
New Jersey Devils
In their last ten games, the Devils are 3-5-2. They are struggling, even though they have gotten a point in four of their last six games. Goal scoring has been a problem lately. In those same six games, the Devils have only scored 14 goals, excluding shootouts. On the other hand, the goaltending (Johan Hedberg) has been stellar. Hedberg has given up only 15 goals in those six games for a 2.50 goals against average, and he may be relieved soon. Martin Brodeur participated in yesterday’s practice.
Bottom Line for Tonight: It’s a rivalry game. Expect physical play and possibly a few fights. I don’t think we’ll see a lot of open ice and a lot of goals scored. The Devils need to play a complete defensive game to give themselves an opportunity to win.
New York Rangers
It’s time to panic! No one expected the Rangers to be on the bubble for making the playoffs 28 games into the season. Currently the Rangers are ninth, two points out of eighth place. They are in a hole, and last night’s shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes might be the beginning of a response. The team was explicitly called out by their head coach, John Tortorella after a disappointing loss to the Buffalo Sabres a week ago. Check out his words here. If I was a reporter in the room, I don’t know what I would’ve done.
The Rangers are led by Rick Nash , Derek Stepan, and Henrik Lundqvist. Nash leads in points with 23 (9 goals and 14 assists), but has hit a slump recently. He has not registered a point in the last four games. Stepan is second in points with 19 (8 goals and 11 assists) and has collected a point in four of his last five contests. Lundqvist has struggled in goal this season at 12-11-1, but is in the top ten in goals against average (2.24) and save percentage (.921). The Rangers will need a complete effort and the contribution of these players to get the job done tonight against the Devils.
The Devils (13-10-6) look to improve to 10-4-2 at the Prudential Center tonight, while the Rangers (14-12-2) look to win their second straight game in as many nights.
The current Atlantic Division standings are as follows: Pittsburgh Penguins 44 points, New Jersey Devils 32 points, New York Rangers 30 points, New York Islanders 29 points, and the Philadelphia Flyers 27 points. Check out more complete standings here.
On a personal note, I will be unable to post often the next few days. Be sure to check out my co-editor David Garrison’s work. It won’t disappoint.