New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils, 8:00 PM at Madison Square Garden
Game Two, Eastern Conference Finals (Rangers Lead 1-0)
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
After riding Henrik Lundqvist's brilliant goaltending and a very strong third period to a 3-0 Game 1 win over the Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals Monday night, the Rangers will look to hold serve on home ice when they host their Hudson River rivals Wednesday in Game 2. The Rangers are looking to break their playoff pattern of winning the opening game of a series before dropping the second game at The Garden as they did in the first round against the Senators and in the second round against the Capitals. In fact the Rangers have not once held a two-game lead in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. They have either been ahead a game or behind a game throughout each series, so far. The Rangers are 6-3 on home ice during the post-season, and have won each of their last three home matches, and five of their last six. Two of their best periods in the playoffs have been the last two third periods they have played---in Game 7 last Saturday against the Caps and in Game 1 against the Devils Monday---with their three-goal outburst in the period the difference in their opening win of the Eastern Conference Finals. With two points apiece on Monday, Chris Kreider now has a pair of multiple-point games in the playoffs, while Artem Anisimov now has three multiple-point efforts. And with a shutout in Game 1, Lundqvist lowered his goals against average during the playoffs to a miniscule 1.57 while raising his save percentage to a gaudy .940. The Devils are 1-1 in Game Twos so far this spring, most importantly coming back to beat the Flyers in the second game after dropping the opener of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. Held to four shots on goal in the third period of Game 1 Monday---and just 21 overall, while having 26 other attempted shots blocked by the Rangers---the Devils will look to Zach parise (5 shots), Ilya Kovalchuk (3 shots), and Travis Zajac (2 shots) for even more scoring chances on Wednesday night.
Rangers-Chris Kreider: It remains fascinating to watch Kreider grow from game to game during the post-season, stepping into the NHL playoffs right out of college. He adds a unique offensive weapon to the Rangers attack---a burner on skates who has the ability to score off the rush with a hard, accurate shot. Kreider has scored off a couple of tracers already in the playoffs---first against Braden Holtby in the second round, then against Martin Brodeur on Monday. However Kreider is well aware that he must avoid the miscues that plagued him during the middle of the Caps series here as the stakes get higher for him and his teammates.
Devils-Martin Brodeur: While there is no doubt Brodeur made several big-time saves in Game 1---most notably robbing a wide-open Marc Staal with a diving glove save in the thrid period---he also left quite a few juicy rebounds out in the slot, and he mishandled the puck on several occasions. If Henrik Lundqvist is going to continue his brilliant play at the other end of the ice, Brodeur needs to be a rock for the Devils, as well. He is a future Hall of Famer and knows how to win the big game---with 3 Stanley Cup rings---but Brodeur is 40 years old and has had some up and down moments during these playoffs.
"We don't play a great game (in Game 1), but we find a way to get it done in the third period. So we win and lead the series 1-0, and we really want to try and get a hold of the series. This next game is a huge opportunity. We haven't done it before (go up 2-0) and it made it a tougher road. It would be nice, in a sense, to make a stand and make home ice more important, make that last win even bigger."-Ryan McDonagh
Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto are tied for the NHL post-season lead in scoring for defensemen. Both have nine points on identical 2-7-9 scoring, two points better than the nearest competition heading into play on Tuesday night. New Jersey's Bryce Salvador is not far behind as he has six points (2-4-6) so far in the post-season.
Monday's 3-0 win was the first time this post-season in 15 games that the Rangers had a contest decided by more than two goals. By contrast, the Devils have had four such games, and are 2-2 in those contests.
Will the Rangers reverse the recent trend and skate to a 2-0 series lead with a win on Wednesday? Share your prediction below.
For complete playoff coverage of the team follow @thenyrangers and @jimcerny on Twitter.