From the desks of:
RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS & NEWARK SINNERS ON SKATES
BATTLE OF THE HUDSON - V
Devils Lead Series 3-1
I - NJD 4; NYR 0
II - NJD 3; NYR 2
III - NJD 4; NYR 3
IV - NYR 7; NJD 3
NEW YORK RANGERS
New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers: Their Kindness Has Been A Weakness. Playing Hockey With A Bad Attitude Is Exactly What They Needed.
There's more to just salvaging a second win in the season series against the Devils. Despite being seven points ahead of today's rival, the Rangers must avoid having Newark close to within five points. It sounds simplistic, but remember what the Devils did two years ago.
Last night's gritty victory over Columbus gave the Blueshirts a mere 24-hours of breathing room.
The Rangers enter tonight's game against the Devils tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference, and only sit in third place of the Metropolitan Division by two points over the Blue Jackets. So, for the Rangers, everything can still change on the drop of a dime.
There are 22 points up for grabs before the regular season ends. The Rangers need to secure as many of them as possible. After tonight's game, the Rangers will host Phoenix, then welcome the #5 Philadelphia Flyers (81 points) to Madison Square Garden. That game will be paramount, as the Rangers will then hit the road for a four game swing through the Western Conference.
Did last night's game in Columbus awake a sleeping giant? Rick Nash finally played with the fury someone of his size and skill should be skating with. The man needed an edge, and the Blue Jackets may have finally sharpened his. His team mates also responded in kind, with great tenaciousness, push-backs and fists, and goals. Games like yesterday's were meant to propel teams forward. What effect it will have on the Rangers with just 11 games left in the season remains to be seen.
New Jersey Devils: Will This Be The Last Time Martin Brodeur Squares Off Against Henrik Lundqvist?
The #11 Devils trail the #8 seeded Columbus Blue Jackets by five points. With 12 games remaining in their schedule, an outside chance to reach the post-season still exists. The Devils have a more Eastern Conference heavy schedule left than the Rangers. They need all the help they can get, but it won't hurt to play like a bunch of crazed dogs.
The Devils are also coming off a 4-3 OT win over the Jackets. It snapped a three game losing streak. In fact, the Devils have been converting more overtime games into victories lately, which was something that stymied their standing very early in the season. The Devils lost their first five extra time games this season. They are now 9-13 for the season in extra innings.
Entering tonight's game against the Rangers, the Devils own the NHL's 3rd best power play, and are tops on the penalty kill. They also rank 11th in goals against. The Rangers are 6th on the PK, 14th on the PP, and 6th in goals against.
Jaromir Jagr continues his years long swan song. He is currently posting a triple crown, leading the team with 23 goals, 37 assists, and 70 points. Earlier this season, he became only the 7th player in NHL history to surpass 700 goals in a career.
The match-ups between Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist are coming to an end. Who knows when the next time might be. Therefore, I for one, will be watching this game with great interest. Both teams will be desperate for a positive outcome tonight.
Henrik Lundqvist recently gained his 303rd career victory. Martin Brodeur more than doubles him, with 686 career victories. He only needs 14 more wins to reach 700, and the Devils should give him the opportunity to achieve that next season (then make him retire!).