New Jersey Devils Show "Fight" Against New York Rangers

Even beyond the line brawl, the New Jersey Devils showed a certain fight against the New York Rangers that we haven't seen all season.

New Jersey Devils v New York Rangers
New Jersey Devils v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils may have been virtually eliminated from the playoffs by their biggest rivals, the New York Rangers. The season has realistically been over since December, but Wednesday night showed a lot of what we know about this team, which was under a big microscope for what was their last important game of the season.

A line brawl to start the game was super shocking, but in a good way for this team. It was a massive breath of fresh air for the team with the spine of a jellyfish. We, as Devils fans, knew it, and everyone watching and working on the broadcast seemed to know that Kurtis MacDermid and Matt Rempe were going to fight the second they both started the game, and it did not disappoint. It was a long brawl with both guys getting good shots off. Seeing Rempe bleed was at least the first of the many receipts the Devils have to cash on him moving forward.

MacDermid did his job and deserves massive applause when he plays next in Jersey, and though it was good, this team can not forget that Rempe still has more to pay for with two of our players out and the whole signing an autograph of an injured player fiasco.

Everyone else who started getting involved was very unlike this version of the Devils, and whoever got them fired up before the game did a hell of a job because nothing had woke them up all season. Even guys who never hit anything in John Marino and Chris Tierney got involved, and there's a ton of respect for that. It's also great seeing this team's all-heart guy Curtis Lazar tossing those gloves off about .1 second after the puck dropped. Lazar has shown up every night, and that is something no one else can say on this team. He doesn't get enough love from fans sometimes, which is unfortunate because if the whole team played like him, they would be in the playoffs even with no goaltending this season.

The Devils still had way too many players feel it was fine to take liberties against them, and this game might be the final straw to management not addressing what most fans have been saying this season. Analytics are great, but they don't mean a lot when you can get bullied off the puck and out of games too easily.

Watching Jesper Bratt and Brendan Smith take dirty crosschecks to the spine and go into the boards was hard to watch, and while it did result in Mercer getting involved after the latter got hit from behind, the overall response from this roster is just to try to ignore it too often. If most of your roster is not willing to drop the mitts and stand up for your team after they take these kinds of hits, the team won't be going anywhere, and if they make it to the playoffs, just imagine what will happen when the NHL's whistles go away like they do every year.

It's still a tragedy that Bratt-Hischier-Meier wasn't a thing all season, that they had injuries, and that we couldn't play a guy on the wing he wanted, but man, have they been incredible this past month. Hopefully, this organization is smart enough not to break the lineup next season because we won't be able to handle it. They have a natural chemistry already, and Meier is now healthy and can actually skate(why was he playing despite the injury against team doctors?). He has turned them into a high-end first-line in the league. Bratt's pass to Hischier was astounding, and even a top-three goalie in the league like Igor Shesterkin had no chance on it, and it felt like the only line that was going to score was them again.

That being said, they need a complete overhaul on every other line because Jack has no one to work with who can keep up, and the bottom six are pretty much guaranteed to do nothing every night. Ondrej Palat scored, but it was completely because of Hughes, who is just so skilled. He beat two NHL players in close to get it to the open man, but other than that, Palat brought nothing again, and quite frankly, most players would score with that chance. Mercer fighting was a highlight for the other lines, but other than that, he was super quiet; Holtz, even with a depleted lineup, played a whopping 11 minutes. Haula is ok, and the rest should be in the AHL, and without the fights added, nothing again, including the ones who got to play on the night not hitting anything.

With six games left, the Devils can maybe play spoiler or get themselves a better draft position, but more importantly, it would be nice to see people play hard and play for their jobs and pride, unlike whatever they have been doing for the last month or so in what might be the worst race for a final playoff spot in NHL history since every team going for it in the east is struggling to be .500 and the Flyers who might make it have won a whopping two games in their last 10.