For the first time since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 25, 2012, the Rangers (4-4-0, 8 pts) will face the New Jersey Devils (4-1-3, 11 pts) Tuesday night at The Prudential Center in Newark. Though as Devils coach Pete DeBoer pointed out on Monday, this is a new season and these are two different teams from the ones that were on the ice the night Adam Henrique's overtime goal eliminated the Rangers and propelled the Devils into the Stanley Cup Finals last spring.
And that holds true even more so for the Rangers after a bit of a shakeup to the roster on Monday. Forward Darroll Powe was acquired from Minnesota in exchange for Mike Rupp, and young forwards JT MIller and Brandon Mashinter were summoned from the Connecticut Whale, with Benn Ferriero reassigned to the Whale. The additions of Powe, Miller, and Mashinter---all of whom are expected to play Tuesday in New Jersey---give the Rangers eight new players from that final game against the Devils last season, joining off-season acquisitions Rick Nash, Jeff Halpern, Taylor Pyatt, Matt Gilroy, and Arron Asham.
Powe will be expected to provide grit, strong skating, a shot blocker, and a solid penalty killer to the Rangers lineup, while the 6-foot-4, 230 pound Mashinter will be looked to provide toughness and rugged, physical play. Miller, at age 19, is a wild card---a top prospect within the organization who seems to be a prototypical John Tortorella player, but who is a fairly inexperienced rookie pro.
This threesome will join a Blueshirts quad coming off its best all-around performance of the season, a 3-2 road victory down in Tampa on Saturday in which Martin Biron stopped 30 of 32 shots between the pipes, Rick Nash scored a clutch third-period goal, and Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin each scored his first goal of the season. With that victory the Rangers enter play this evening having won three of their last four games, and four of their last six. They are 1-2-0 on the road, so far, in 2013.
It is likely that Tortorella will keep his top two lines intact Tuesday, meaning that Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and Nash would remain together and that the rejuvinated Hagelin and Stepan would team with Taylor Pyatt, who notched a pair of assists on Saturday. How the third and fourth lines shake out will be interesting with the new additions needing to fit in among the bottom six forwards.
After a night off in Tampa, Henrik Lundqvist will be back between the pipes for the Rangers Tuesday. Ryan Callahan (subluxed left shoulder) and Chris Kreider (chipped bone in ankle) both practiced on Monday, but neither will play against the Devils.
The Devils will see Martin Brodeur back in goal this evening, even though his back up Johan Hedberg backstopped a 3-0 shutout against the Islanders in their most recent contest on Sunday. That win was New Jersey's first after four straight defeats, though the Devils did earn a point in three of those losses by virtue of playing into overtime. In fact the Devils have suffered only one regulation loss so far this season, a 5-1 defeat in Pittsburgh on Saturday in Brodeur's most recent outing.
This Devils squad has three new faces on its roster since beating the Rangers in the playoffs last spring, including 2012 top draft pick Stefan Matteau---the son of Rangers legend Stephane Matteau---who has played in five games and posted a +1 rating while being held without a point. Joining Matteau are wingers Bobby Butler and Krystofer Barch. The biggest name to depart the Devils in the off-season, of course, was team captain Zach Parise, who scored 31 goals in New Jersey a year ago.
Last season the Rangers and Devils met six times in the regular season, with New York posting a 3-2-1 record. The Rangers lone win in New Jersey last season came on December 20, 2011 when Gaborik scored twice, Lundqvist made 30 saves, and Hagelin scored shorthanded in a 4-1 victory.
Last year is in the past, but will the Rangers seek some revenge tonight in New Jersey? And how will the new faces fit in with the rest of their Ranger teammates? Share your thoughts and predictions on Tuesday's game below.