Blackhawks News

Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Rangers vs Devils

By Greg Boysen

#1 New York Rangers (8-6) vs #6 New Jersey Devils (8-4)

Series Schedule:

Game 1 5/14 NJ @ NY 7:00 PM

Game 2 5/16 NJ @ NY 7:00 PM

Game 3 5/19 NY @ NJ 12:00 PM

Game 4 5/21 NY @ NJ 7:00 PM

Game 5* 5/23 NJ @ NY 7:00 PM

Game 6* 5/25 NY @ NJ 7:00 PM

Game 7* 5/27 NJ @ NY 7:00 PM

* if necessary

New York Rangers

The Rangers have been taken to the limit in both of their series so far.  They needed all 7 games to defeat both the 8th seeded Ottawa Senators and the 7th seeded Washington Capitals.  The Rangers have had problems scoring, which isn’t anything new for them.  They are averaging 2.07 goals per game, which is by far the lowest of the remaining playoff teams.  Brad Richards leads the team with 6 goals and has added 5 assists as well.  His line mate Marion Gaborik has had a good playoff run scoring 10 points (4 G, 6 A) of his own.  Derek Stepan leads the Blue Shirts with 7 assists.  Defenseman Ryan McDonagh is averaging over 27 minutes a game of ice time, but is a team low -4.  The Rangers haven’t been able to score a lot of goals but when you have the best goaltender in the game, you don’t need to score a whole lot. Henrik Lundqvist comes into the Eastern Conference Finals with a 1.68 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.  The Rangers special teams have not been so special in the post season.  Their power play has looked good at times, but it has been inconsistent, converting on 15.8% of their chances.  Their penalty kill needs some help as it has only killed off 82.6 % of its power plays.  Losing Brandon Dubinsky for the entire Caps series didn’t help the PK’s efforts.  Dubinsky hopes to return at some point of this series but will be out for at least Game 1.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils made easy work of the Philadelphia Flyers, needing just 5 games to move on, after needing 7 games to defeat the pesky Florida Panthers.  The Devils have averaged exactly 3 goals a game.  Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac have lead a balanced New Jersey attack with 5 goals each.  Kovalchuck leads the team in assists too, with 7.  Defenseman Bryce Salvador has been a pleasant surprise this post season.  Not only has he been contributing offensively with 6 points (2G, 4A), but he also leads the team as a +8.  Martin Brodeur has been pretty solid in the net, proving he still has plenty left in the tank.  He has posted a 2.05 goals against average and a .920 save percentage through 2 rounds.  The Devils have the best power play of the teams remaining as they have scored on over 20% of their chances.  This will prove to be a tough a matchup with the Rangers struggling penalty kill.  The Devils, who set the all time record for PK % in the regular season, has not done a very good job in the post season.  They have killed off just 73.6% of their penalties, by far the worst of the final four teams.

My Prediction:  I don’t think the Rangers have the fire power to survive another round.  I think this heated series will go to the Devils in 7.