NEWARK — New Jersey Devils stalwart defenseman Ryan Graves was one of many players who felt Thursday night’s game against the Rangers felt the intensity of the playoffs. And for good reason.
With seven games left in the regular season, the Devils lead the Rangers by four points. If the playoffs start today, these old rivals will pair up in the first round for a fun matchup that kicks off the postseason with a bang. It could make Thursday’s game, which was won at , feel like a morning skate by comparison.
“There’s no existing bad blood yet,” says Graves. “We are not yet in Game 3 of the series.”
For some, it’s both fun and nerve-wracking to think about what such a matchup would be like. Includes fascinating series.1994 Conference Finals won by the Rangers Stephane Mato’s Game 7 overtime goal, was one of the most memorable series ever. However, Devils fans are credited with the team winning one of his three Stanley Cups over the Rangers during that period, and most recently, defeating the Rangers directly in the 2012 Conference Finals. , took revenge to some extent. In Game 6, Adam Enrique’s overtime goal won the game.
If the teams meet again this year, it will be a battle between two evenly matched high-quality teams.
The Rangers, who recently acquired Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko in trades, are strong offensive stars and have each won Stanley Cups. This team has strong shooters scattered on the ice and a world-class goalkeeper named Igor his Shesterkin. They’re looking to improve on last year’s Eastern his appearance in the Conference Finals.
The Devils hope to build a surprisingly successful season, capitalizing on all the young speed and talent that came to fruition slightly ahead of schedule. They also have goalkeeper Vitek Vanessek who is a source of confidence and stability.
“A really good team will get knocked out in the first round,” said Joe Aloy, 24, a Devils fan who works for the Connecticut Department of Corrections.
Aloy drove three hours to Thursday’s game at the Prudential Center with CJ Teto, 22, a friend and former teammate on the Easthaven, Connecticut High School hockey team. Aloy wore his favorite Devils jersey and Tet wore Rangers blue. They watched each team play and described the battles they had fought over the years. Most of the time it was on TV in Aloy’s basement. Occasionally, they also go to games.
Aloy admitted to being nervous about the playoff matchup against the Rangers, but Teto, who owns a sporting goods store in Cheshire, Connecticut, showed more courage.
“I’m not worried at all, especially about the additions we made,” Teto said. “But it will definitely be a battle.”
Heading into Friday’s game against the Sabers, the Rangers have been picking up momentum in recent weeks and are just one win away from reaching 100 points for the second year in a row. This was the team’s only postseason berth in the 2020 Pandemic postseason ad-hoc qualifying round, when the team lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in his three games four years later. That’s it. New York got off to a slow start to the season, with the Devils getting off to an exciting start but falling back to the ferocious Rangers.
The Rangers entered Thursday’s game with nine wins from their previous 11 games, and one loss in overtime. The Devils have won only two of their last eight games. The gap closed so much that the Rangers could have tied with the Devils to put him in second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Devils felt the heat and reacted.
“It was a tough game,” Rangers defenseman Adam Fox said. is as important as
The impact of Thursday’s game playoffs and home ice left both teams fierce after two points, with some Devils players saying they want to set the tone for an impending series against the Rangers.
“It’s a good team,” Graves said. “They added big pieces to meet the deadline and they are better now than when we played all year. Against a team like that, you can win a game 2-1. It shows a lot.”
The result could actually add uncertainty to the standings and throw a wrench into the intriguing prospect of Rangers versus Devils going head-to-head in the first round. Lost to Detroit in 2018, leaving the Devils just one point behind. However, Carolina has an extra game. If the Devils outsmart the Carolinas and win the division, the Rangers will face the Hurricanes in the first round. If things got really crazy, the Rangers could still win the division.
Graves appeared in 25 postseason games with the Colorado Avalanche before being traded to the Devils in 2021. Only made it to the playoffs once, in 2018 since defeating the Rangers in 2012 before losing to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. But this team is unlike the New Jersey teams of the past few times.
“They have a lot of skill and talent,” said Rangers coach Gerald Gallant. “They’re a really good team. I mean, obviously, they’ve got 102 points. But like the young players, they’ve taken a step. They’re a confident group.”
It’s the Devils’ third win in four games against the Rangers this season. Two games went into overtime, and only one of his, a 5–3 win for the Devils in November, was decided by multiple goals.
As is always the case when the Rangers are at the Prudential Center, there were plenty of supporters in the building and when Chris Crider beat Vanessek for the Rangers’ lone goal, it seemed as though the home team had scored. could hear.
But it was fine for Vanecek. He scored victories, one of his 30 wins in his season with the Devils, leading to Hall of Famer Martin. won). While his play was suspended, Vanecek stood in his crease and kept abreast of his surroundings.
“I saw a lot of blue jerseys today,” he said. “It wasn’t that much fun. But thanks to all the fans, it’s still getting better.”
If the Devils face the Rangers in the playoffs, he’d better get used to it.