New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils, 8:00 PM at Madison Square Garden
Game One, Eastern Conference Finals
Where To Watch: NBC Sports Network
Live One-Hour Postgame Show: MSG Network
Where To Listen: 98.7 FM ESPN New York
Live In-Game Chat: 7:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
For the second time already in these Stanley Cup playoffs the Rangers will open up a new series less than 48 hours after winning a Game 7 on home ice by the score of 2-1. This time they will skate against the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals---the Blueshirts' first appearance in the third round of the post-season since 1997---after vanquishing the Washington Capitals in Game 7 at a raucous Madison Square Garden Saturday night. By virtue of having been pushed to the limit by both Ottawa (in the first round) and Washington (in the second round) the Rangers have played more games (14) than any of the teams remaining in the NHL's Final Four. And after exhausting themselves in ousting the Capitals, the Rangers must now face-off with a team that has had five full days off since their last game. The Rangers argue that this benefits them---that they will be sharp and the Devils might be a bit stale---while the Devils contend the Rangers will be a tired team and the fresh legs of New Jersey will make the home team pay on Monday night. Of the Rangers 14 playoff games so far, 11 have been decided by one goal, and the other three by two goals. The Rangers scored four goals in the post-season opener against the Senators and have not topped three goals since. The Devils, who beat the Panthers in seven games in the first round and the Flyers in five games in the next round, have only played six one-goal games, and have been involved in a pair of lopsided scores---a 4-0 win over the Panthers and a 3-0 loss to Florida in the first round. While Brad Richards leads the Rangers with six goals and 11 points in the post-season, New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk has a team-best 12 points and is tied with Travis Zajac with a team-high five goals. New York's Brandon Dubinsky, who has missed seven straight games due to injury, will miss Monday's opener, while New Jersey's Marek Zidlicky, who was banged up in Game 5 against Philadelphia, is healthy enough to play for the Devils.
The Rangers and Devils will be meeting for the sixth time in the post-season. The Rangers own a 4-1 all-time series mark against the Devils---winning a seven-game first-round series in 1992, the epic seven-game Eastern Conference Finals in seven games in 1994, a second-round series in five games in 1997, and an opening-round series that lasted five games in 2008. The Devils lone series win was a sweep of their opening-round match-up in 2006. This past regular season the Rangers posted a 3-2-1 record against New Jersey, limiting the Devils to 11 goals over six games while scoring 14 of their own. The Rangers won two of three games at The Garden during the regular season---including a Henrik Lundqvist 2-0 shutout on February 27th.
"I always love playing these guys beacuse even in a regular season game it feels like a playoff game. It's always an intense match-up. So it should be that much more going into a bigger stage like this. The challenge for us is coming off that high of winning Game 7 and bringing that same emotion and desperation into (Monday) night."-Marc Staal
Neither team fared well on the power play against one another in the regular season. The Rangers were just 1-for-14, while the Devils were slightly better at 2-for-18. In the post-season the Devils rank 4th in the NHL converting at 20.9% on the power play (9-for-43) while the Rangers are 9-for-57, ninth overall in the NHL.
Seven different Devils have recorded game-winning goals in the playoffs, while six different Rangers have done so. Brian Boyle, Chris Kreider, and David Clarkson all have recorded two game-winning goals in the playoffs so far.
Will the Rangers be able to come right back after their gut-wrenching Game 7 win over the Caps, and find a way to beat the Devils in Game 1 on Monday? Share your predictions below.
For complete playoff coverage of the team follow @thenyrangers and @jimcerny on Twitter.