Upcoming games: @ Devils, January 31, 7:00 p.m.; @ Sabres, February 1, 7:30 p.m.; Flyers, February 5, 1:00 p.m.
New Jersey Devils (55 points, 8th place, 26-19-3)
The Rangers won 4-1 on December 20 at the Prudential Center the first time the teams met this season. Before the All Star break, the Devils lost 2-1 in a shootout against the Buffalo Sabres. The Devils were not represented in the ASG festivities in Ottawa after rookies Adam Larsson (wrist) and Adam Henrique (groin) pulled out to nurse injuries. The Devils currently have the second best penalty killing unit in the league operating at a 89.2% success rate. Seven players on New Jersey’s roster have more than 10 goals. Ilya Kovalchuk leads with 19 goals while Patrik Elias has seven power play goals and 46 points. Martin Brodeur is 14-12-2 in net this season. The Devils went 5-4-1 over their last ten games.
Buffalo Sabres (45 points, 14th place, 20-24-5)
The Rangers beat the Sabres 4-1 on December 10 in Buffalo. Rookie – and now fastest skating All Star – Carl Hagelin scored twice while Martin Biron made 32 saves for the win. The Sabres are struggling to find an identity and get in a groove this season. They are 2-7-1 over their last ten games. They ended a franchise record 12-game road losing streak in their shootout win over the Devils last week. Captain Jason Pominville leads the team with 47 points. He netted a goal and an assist in the All Star Game this weekend for Team Alfredsson. Ryan Miller has allowed 15 goals over his last five games in net.
Philadelphia Flyers (63 points, 4th place, 29-14-5)
The Rangers have won all three meetings against the Flyers this season, including the Winter Classic. In Philadelphia the Rangers overcame a two goal deficit to steal the victory before the thousands of disappointed fans in orange at Citizens Bank Park. Before the All Star break, the Flyers beat the Panthers 3-2 in a shootout. Late addition Scott Hartnell assisted on two goals in the All Star game including one for teammate Claude Giroux for Team Alfredsson. Rookie Sean Couturier showed he has some flashy hands in the Breakaway challenge of the Skills Competition. The Flyers have the fourth best power play in the league with a 20.4% success rate. Ilya Bryzgalov continues to be inconsistent in net. He allowed five goals against the Boston Bruins on January 22 after allowing just two goals in games prior to that.
Any cobwebs from the extended break will need to be shaken off as the Rangers start the second half push to the playoffs. With two rivals and a team fighting to be relevant, the Blueshirts should ignite back into a groove.