The war begins tonight and I use the word war because that is exactly what this is. A war, a battle against the two teams divided by one river whose fan base literally hates one another. This is going to be an intense series, both on the ice for the players and off the ice for the fans.
Can the Devils win? The one thing the regular season proved is that these two teams are evenly matched. Everyone wants to talk (well mostly Rangers fans) how the Rangers were one win away from the President’s Trophy. Well, the Rangers only finished 7 points ahead of the Devils and there were plenty of games that the Devils left points on the ice this season. 7 points is NOTHING and that stat really means nothing.
The important thing to remember going into game 1 is that the Devils need to relax. It’s one game, the series can neither be won or lost tonight. I would like NJ to come away from MSG with at least 1 game in their win column and certainly would love to see it tonight but one game doesn’t win us anything.
I believe the Devils are the better team 5-on-5 so NJ will need to play disciplined hockey between the whistles. Don’t get involved in the stuff after the whistle and don’t give the refs any easy calls (I’m talking to you Zidlicky, keep the puck in the rink!!). Try not to get too frustrated at the Rangers ability to block shots and just keep plugging away at the net.
All eyes will be on Marty Brodeur, the man considered the best goalie this league has ever seen vs Henrik Lundqvist, the upcoming man who might have the tools needed to knock Marty off that throne someday. The other heroes in this series will played by guys you don’t expect. The top stars on both teams will be held in check but the opposition so for NJ, it comes down to guys like Clarkson, Zubrus and Henrique to get the job done.
Rangers fans are throwing this tweet at us today:
Bad news for NJ. #6 seeds are 0-4 in ECF history (circa 1994). Last 3 #6 seeds lost in 4 or 5 games.— Kevin Gibson (@TSNResearch) May 14, 2012
But I am going to respond with “no team has won the Stanley Cup after playing the maximum 14 games in the opening rounds”
So enough talk (especially about 1994) and let’s get this series started. Like I said, it’s a war, a battle and it is going to be intense.
Keys to Winning Tonight:
- Stay out of the box
- Don’t let the crowd get to us. It’s near impossible to take them out of the game because even when they are losing they are loud. Just don’t let them take us out of the game.
- Don’t get frustrated by blocked shots. The Rangers are great at it but just keep firing pucks at the net, eventually stuff is going to get through.
- Play in between the whistles, not after. Don’t give the refs anything easy.
- Take it shift by shift and if you get a lead, DON’T SIT BACK!!