New Jersey Devils: New York Rangers Rivalry About To Reignite

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 09: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers tends net against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Madison Square Garden on January 09, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 09: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers tends net against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Madison Square Garden on January 09, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers are set to reignite their rivalry.

The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers have had some fantastic battles since New Jersey came into the NHL back in the ’80s. Lately, each team has been down but have been building towards the future. No matter where each other are in the standings, however, these head to head matchups are always so fun. This year, it begins three games into the season and the season can go either way for both sides. Each group is loaded with talent that is going to be there for a while.

The rivalry is currently headlined by young talent. Each team has a young up and coming goalie. For New Jersey, it is Mackenzie Blackwood and for New York, it is Igor Shesterkin. However, the Rangers starting Alexandar Georgiev against the Devils after his great performance against the New York Islanders this weekend. It is a big game for Blackwood as he looks to keep his great play going.

In 2019, the Devils won the NHL’s Draft Lottery and the Rangers came in second. Naturally, a rivalry builds between the two top selections. New Jersey selected Jack Hughes and New York selected Kaapo Kakko. They both project to be elite NHL players but Hughes is far and away better than Kakko so far. Neither of them had the rookie year that they wanted but Hughes is off to a brilliant start this year.

This is not the game that Nico Hischier will be back in the lineup and we are still waiting for Jesper Bratt and Sami Vatanen to arrive in New Jersey so they can clear COVID-19 protocols. We will, however, get a glimpse of Alexis Lafreniere. This is going to be the first time that the 2020 number-one overall pick will play in the Hudson River Rivalry.

The NHL is a better place when each of these teams is in contention. It is hard to say whether or not either of them is a playoff team this year but chances are that they are not. Each of them has something to prove and it will be up to them to prove it.

One key to New Jersey’s game, in addition to the play of Blackwood, is their play in the defensive zone. They have been an up-tempo team so far this year but it hasn’t resulted in as many goals as you’d think. They have also only played the Boston Bruins who are as stingy of a team as there is in the league.

The one surprise is how this new New Jersey system has allowed them to not relinquish an even-strength goal. They have only allowed two power-play goals and a short-handed goal so far. It would be nice to see them finally score a power-play goal themselves but their play at even strength needs to keep up. It is unrealistic to think they will never give up a goal but they can continue doing what they’re doing to limit the chances.

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As for that power play, not many teams kill penalties the way the Boston Bruins do. They flood the middle of the ice and are very aggressive which makes it hard to create. They also have Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron who are two of the greatest offensive penalty killers the league has ever seen. They combined for that one previously mentioned short-handed goal against. Things might be different against the Rangers, we will see. Hopefully, all of these things work in New Jersey’s favor so they can get their second win of the season.