Both teams had very strong regular seasons and have faced some tough battles these playoffs to make it to the third round in dramatic fashion. New York has gone to two Game Seven's with Ottawa and Washington, while New Jersey beat out Florida in a Game Seven and took care of Philadelphia in 5 games. They've definitely added some entertainment to these playoffs and this series will be no different based on what these two rivals did during the regular season.
Jan. 31: Rangers 3 @ Devils 4 SO
Feb. 7: Devils 1 @ Rangers 0
Feb. 27: Devils 0 @ Rangers 2
March 6: Rangers 1 @ Devils 4
March 19: Devils 2 @ Rangers 4
Both teams won 3 games against each other in a fight-filled season series that saw 22 fighting majors over the six games. Remember when they started a game with three fights off the faceoff? Yah these teams don't like each other. The nastiness even extends to the coaches so expect a hard fought series with lots of post-whistle shenanigans and even shorter John Tortorella press conferences.
The Devils have gotten some solid efforts from Ilya Kovalchuk who leads the team in scoring with 5 goals and 12 points (it's amazing how the playoffs make you forget about ridiculous contracts). Zach Parise has been shooting at will and potting some goals which is helping his case with free agency looming. Travis Zajac has bounced back from an injury-riddled season with 5 goals and 5 assists, and David Clarkson has kept his regular season scoring touch going with 2 goals (both game winners) and 6 assists. The Devils have 16 players with at least 3 points (this includes Martin Brodeur's 3 apples), and only 1 player, Tom Sesito, has failed to record a single point (he's only played one game). Martin Brodeur has been decent for the Devils, but at times he has really showed his age with a .920 save percentage. If anyone can step up to steal a game or two though, it's Marty, so don't be surprised if he's dropping two pad stacks all game long. The Devils are getting scoring from everyone on the roster and with their big boys playing as solid as they are, they could give the Rangers fits.
The Rangers stars have also shined, but none brighter than the highest paid player in the NHL this year, Brad Richards. With 6 goals and 11 points, Richards leads the Rangers in both categories and also leads the playoffs in shots on goal. Marian Gaborik has also been putting up some points with 4 goals and 6 assists, but you would obviously like to see him burying more chances and showing more of the flair he had when he scored 41 in the regular season. The blueshirts blueline have contributed a great deal too, not only in the shot-blocking department, but Michael Del Zotto and Dan Girardi have 8 and 7 points respectively, including one game winner each. The Rangers have been getting balanced scoring and with Henrik Lundqvist in net, that might just be the edge they need to hurdle the Devils and reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Why To Cheer For New York:
Why To Cheer For New Jersey:
Also, what the eff is up with this picture? Hockey bondage is weird.