Throughout the offseason, Running With The Devils will preview the Devils 2010-2011 schedule, giving you an in-depth preview of the 29 other teams the Devils will face next season. Last season, the Devils took first place in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. This season, the team will look to improve on their abysmal playoff performance. Earlier today, I previewed the Devils’ matchup with the Montreal Canadiens. For today’s second preview, we take a look at the Devils’ cross-river rival- the New York Rangers.
Continue reading after the jump for the preview!
Rangers vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 206 all-time regular season meetings, the Devils are 85-87-27-7 against the Rangers. The Devils average 3.10 goals against their rival, but allow the Rangers to score 3.36 goals per game. In six regular season meetings, the Devils went 3-2-1 against the Rangers.
The Rangers won the first meeting of last season, 3-2, on October 5. Rob Niedermayer scored the game’s first goal 1:10 into the first period, giving the Devils the early lead. It wouldn’t last long, as Michael Del Zotto scored a powerplay goal at 6:31 to tie the game. The Devils responded with their own powerplay tally, as Travis Zajac restored the one-goal lead at the 10:52 mark. The seesaw battle continued, with the Rangers tying the score at two with an Ales Kotalik powerplay goal. Matt Gilroy put the Rangers ahead for good with an even-strength goal at 17:50 of the second period.
The Devils exacted revenge 17 days later, when they defeated the Rangers, 4-2, at Madison Square Garden. Zach Parise gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 6:11 of the first period, and Niclas Bergfors doubled the lead at 15:10 of the period. The Rangers came roaring back in the second period, using goals from Marian Gaborik and Kotalik to tie the game at two. The Devils took control in the third period, with Dainius Zubrus scoring the game-winning goal at 7:51 of the period. Parise added an empty-net goal to seal the victory. Martin Brodeur stopped 29 shots in the win.
The Devils won the third game of the series, 1-0, in a shootout on January 12. The game was a goalie duel, with Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist going save for save. The teams remained scoreless into the shootout, with the Rangers electing to shoot first. Erik Christensen, the Rangers first shooter, lost control of the puck and couldn’t get a shot on net. Parise was up first for the Devils, and had his blocker-side shot denied. Brodeur stopped Kotalik, Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky to keep the Rangers off the board. Lundqvist stopped Jamie Langenbrunner and Zajac, but couldn’t stop Patrik Elias. The Devils left-winger put the puck over Lundqvist’s catching glove, giving the Devils the win.
With that win, Brodeur recorded his first career regular season shutout at Madison Square Garden. The Devils’ goalie stopped 51 shots for the win. Lundqvist recorded 44 saves in the loss.
The Rangers won the fourth meeting of the season, 3-1, to even the season series. The Rangers scored three unanswered goals in the second period to take the lead. Zubrus scored a third period goal, but it wouldn’t rally the Devils. Lundqvist made 41 saves for the win.
The seesaw battle would end after Prust’s goal. Langenbrunner gave the Devils a 4-3 lead at 13:06 of the second period. New Jersey went on to score three unanswered goals – knocking Lundqvist out of the game in the process – to clinch the win. (For a full recap of that game, read my recap here.)
The Rangers won the final meeting of the regular season, 4-3, in a shootout. The Devils once again scored first, with Ilya Kovalchuk giving New Jersey an early 1-0 lead. Dubinsky tied the game with a powerplay goal in the second period, tying the game at one. The third period followed the same script as the fourth game, with the Devils wasting leads. Elias put the Devils ahead, 2-1, early in the third period. Artem Anisimov tied the game at 9:40 of the second period, and the scoring gates were opened. Langenbrunner gave the Devils a 3-2 lead at 12:37 of the period, but the Rangers answered that tally with one of their own. With their net open, Chris Drury scored at 19:43 to tie the game and send it to overtime. The teams remained scoreless through the extra period, and Christensen was the only player to score in the shootout. (For a full recap, click here.)
Devils vs. Rangers – This Season’s Matchup
The two rivals will face each other six times during the regular season, with the games spread equally throughout the year. One game of interest could be the final meeting between the two teams, on April 9. The Rangers always seem to be a playoff contender, and this late-season matchup could determine the standings within the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers, who are known to be big spenders in free agency, kept a low-profile during the summer. The team signed Martin Biron as their backup goaltender July 1, and later added talented left-winger Alexander Frolov and forward Tim Kennedy. The Blueshirts were also active in the trade market, acquiring center Todd White from Atlanta for Donald Brashear and Patrick Rissmiller. The team also kept several players, including Christensen and Prospal.
As always, the Devils and Rangers will play some physically intense hockey next season. Over the past few years, the Rangers have caught up to the Devils, and that starts in net. New Jersey got to Lundqvist last season, but the Rangers goalie has been terrific against the Devils. With the Rangers addressing their need for depth at center this offseason, I’d expect them to come out as one of the better teams in the conference. But the Devils have re-tooled in the offseason as well, and all six games will prove to be tough matches for both teams.
Other Important Stats
Every Devils fan knows how annoying Sean Avery can be. But the Rangers’ forward recorded one point (an assist) last season against the Devils…Del Zotto became the latest Ranger to hurt the Devils last season. In six games, Del Zotto recorded five points, tops among Rangers skaters…Both Prospal and Gaborik finished with five points against the Devils…We all know David Clarkson isn’t the most offensively gifted player, but he recorded five points against the Rangers last season. The big forward led all skaters from both teams in assists with five…Parise recorded six points (three goals, three assists) against the Rangers last season.
Lundqvist Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP Photo
Rolston and Parise Photo Credits: Mike Stobe/Getty Images