Two of our area local hockey teams are battling for the right to play for the Stanley Cup. The Rangers and Devils have advanced to what amounts to Hockey's Armageddon between midtown and Newark as this best four of seven series will determine the Eastern conference representative in the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals.
The Rangers come off of their seventh win at home over the Washington Capitals and the Devils have had about a week off since disposing of the Philadelphia Flyers in 5 games. No team that has won seven games in the first two rounds of the playoffs has ever won the Stanley Cup.
The Blueshirts and Devils have met 5 times in playoff action and the Rangers have won four times. Ironically, in 1994 the Rangers beat the Devils in 7 games on its way to beating the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup.
This years' New Jersey Devils have overachieved coming off last year's non playoff finish. They were the sixth seed in the east and upset the Florida Panthers in seven games and surprised the favored Flyers in five. In the playoffs so far the Devils have relied on great forechecking and timely scoring and ole reliable Marty Broduer in goal. Most impressively, the Devils made the Flyers appear old and slow after Philly upset the Penguins in the first round.
The Rangers have continued a season-long march for the Cup since taking over first place in the eastern conference in December. They have survived two playoff wars so far, edging the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals by the barest of margins. The Rangers rely on an excellent and mobile defense great goal-tending and forechecking. Sound familiar?
This will be an epic war and the Rangers will win. The Rangers are one of few teams that have an edge in goal against the Devils. King Henrich is a better goaltender than Marty, as Brodeur is in the twilight of his career.
Equally as troublesome for New Jersey will be the speed and mobility of the Rangers defense-men as all of them have speed, move the puck quickly against the forecheck and join the play in the attack zone. It should one for the ages and a great chapter in area sports lore.
The Rangers have added speed up front with the additions of Hagelin and Krieder and the Rangers forecheck will bother the Devils defense more than the Devils action will affect the Rangers.
One wild card in this reasoning is the ability of Brodeur to handle and pass the puck to evade the forecheck, so look to see early how the Rangers dump the puck in. Do they put it deep into the Devils zone, chip it in, shoot it at Brodeur or try to keep possession? Success or lack of same may influence the outcome but it says here that the Rangers move on in their march for the cup defeating the Devils in six games.