Rangers @ Devils
Prudential Center, 7:00 p.m. Friday
Rangers’ record: 6-5-1
Devils’ record: 4-9-1
Tonight’s game against the Devils is going to be tougher than initially expected.
Fresh off an emotional win against the defending Stanley Cup champions in Chicago, the New Jersey Devils return home from a six-game road trip with eyes for a new beginning. Beating the New York Rangers—perpetual cross-river rivals and the team that sent them packing for their grueling Western road-trip after a crushing 3-1 defeat—would be the perfect way for the Devils to mount a comeback.
Despite the Devils’ important win against the Blackhawks Wednesday night, their well publicized woes are far from over. Star forward Zach Parise, who has led the Devils in goals for the past four years, will be missing three months after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus. Parise is only the latest addition to a cramped Devils’ IR, which includes veterans Anton Volchenkov, Bryce Salvador, and Brian Rolston. The remainder of the Devils’ lineup hasn’t exactly picked up the slack in their absence; the Devils have a league worst minus-20 goal differential, and are a measly 3 for 44 on the power play. In fourteen games played, the Devils are second to last in the league with nine points. Ilya Kovalchuk, meanwhile, has scored only three goals this season, with none in his past five games. And when it seemed that nothing else could go wrong for the snakebitten Devils, goalie Martin Brodeur took a shot to the elbow during Wednesday night’s game and went to the locker room towards the end of the second period. However, Brodeur said it was just a “stinger”, and he is expected to play against the Rangers tonight.
While the Devils enjoyed a day off in between games, the Rangers head straight to the Rock after last night’s disappointing loss in Philadelphia. Coach Tortorella summed up the game succinctly and accurately enough, saying both teams turned in a “sloppy” and “crappy” performance. Brandon Dubinsky’s team-leading eighth goal of the season gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead, but the Blueshirts mustered up close to zero offensive opportunities after Dubinsky’s tally. According to Michael Del Zotto, the Rangers came in looking for “revenge” for last season’s heartbreaking, season-ending defeat, but that energetic spark eluded the Rangers all night.
Tonight’s match-up is an important and decisive game for both teams. The Devils will be riding high on the momentum gained from their win in Chicago, and the Rangers need to regain their momentum after a frustrating loss in Philly. Hopefully, the Rangers will turn in a better effort against the Devils and play with the offensive grit that has thrilled us in games past.
Edit: Post-morning skate reports are that Johan Hedberg will get the start tonight for the Devils in place of Martin Brodeur.