“They have a lot of skill, a lot of firepower. It’s going to be important that we stick to our game, not waver from it, because these guys can burn you. These games against the Devils are always a big challenge, and I don’t expect this one to be any different.”
-Brian Boyle via Blueshirts United
Opponent Blog: Pucks and Pitchforks
With the New York Giants celebrating their Super Bowl victory today in the city, the New York Rangers won’t be too far away as they host the New Jersey Devils (7:00PM, MSG) at the Garden. The Blueshirts come into tonight’s contest on a two-game winning streak after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 in a Sunday matinee rematch of the Winter Classic.
It was a week ago today the Rangers dropped a 4-3 contest in a shootout to the Devils in a game that saw the lead change twice in the third period before Ilya Kovalchuk scored the only goal in the shootout. Tonight, it will be Henrik Lundqvist in goal looking to improve upon his Vezina-worthy season.
Pre-game notes and keys to victory after the jump.
Injuries: Michael Sauer (concussion)
Scratches – Steve Eminger
KEYS TO VICTORY
- SINFULLY GOOD – Ilya Kovalchuk is playing like the dangerous offensive force he’s capable of being with ten points in his last four games, including three-straight three-point games, not seen since April 2010 when Capitals’ center Nicklas Backstrom accomplished the feat. He’s also just the fourth player in their franchise history to have three-straight three point games. Neutralizing Kovalchuk, especially when he’s hot, will not be an easy task.
- HANK IS IN NET – Last week, Martin Biron got the start and fared admirably but The King he is not. Henrik Lundqvist is back in between the pipes tonight to continue his dominance against the Devils. Since 2007-08, the Rangers are 18-7-3 overall (9-3-1 at home; 9-4-2 on the road), dating back to a 2-0 win on Oct. 25, 2007. Henrik Lundqvist has registered a 2.07 GAA, .926 Sv% and five shutouts in 27 games over the span. The dominance needs to continue tonight.
- DIVISIONAL DOMINANCE – In the midst of their remarkable season, the Rangers have handled their divisional games exceptionally, posting a 10-2-1 record against the Atlantic Division, including a nine-game winning streak from Nov. 15 – Jan. 6. New York has out-scored their opponent, 42-27, in divisional play. In this case, seeing red should be a good thing.
**Prediction – A tough, physical contest that will be overshadowed by offense as the Rangers edge out the Devils 4-3. Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle, Marc Staal, and Derek Stepan are the Rangers’ goal scorers.