New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers, November 18th 7:00 PM
Regardless of how you view the way the Devils’ season ended, it’s simply undeniable that New Jersey’s Game 7 win in the against the New York Rangers is the most satisfying moment in the last decade of Devils hockey. Not only did the Devils come out of the first round for the first time in more than a decade, but they did it by eliminating their biggest rival.
Between moments of former Rangers Keith Yandle saying the Devils won’t make the playoffs and Rangers fans erupting when NJD selected Jack Hughes over Kaapo Kakko, it felt like something like this was long overdue. Unlike more recent seasons when the matchups weren’t very competitive, both sides have plenty to prove across the course of the year.
For the Devils, they need to show the NHL that last year wasn’t a fluke; not just that they’re better than the Rangers, but that they are a serious contender in this league and will be for seasons to come.
As for the Rangers, there is good reason to question their window for a Stanley Cup. Between the underwhelming play of former 1st overall pick Alexis Lafreniere and the disappearing acts of Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin in the playoffs, new coach Peter Laviolette and his team will certainly be playing with a chip on their shoulder for 82 games-plus.
The Hudson River Rivalry will take place four more times this upcoming season, with the first two meetings in NJ and the last two in NY, a reverse of last season’s order. However, there is something special about the first time these two teams meet every season.