Presidents Trophy on the line for Rangers tonight, with win over the Devils
Time: 7:00 pm EST
Location: Prudential Center-Newark, NJ
Where to Watch/Listen: MSG/WEPN 98.7
After an exciting come-from-behind win over a streaking Columbus Blue Jackets team, the New York Rangers travel across the Hudson to meet rival New Jersey Devils, one last time.
This will be the fourth and final time the two teams meet this season. The Rangers are looking for the season sweep tonight.
If it seems like the Rangers and the Devils played recently, they did. The last time these two teams tangled was three days ago. The team took advantage of the Devils, scoring three first-period goals and chased Cory Schneider out of the game.
Things did not improve for Devils backup goaltender Keith Kincaid, as he was lit up for three goals also. One of those goals was a short-handed breakaway by Derek Stepan, which would have made any goalie look silly.
After the game, Kincaid made no bones about how he felt about the Blueshirts. A Long Island native, who grew up as an Islanders fan, had this to say, “Yeah. I hate that team…”
(51-21-7 with 109 points, Metropolitan Division Champions)
This is shaping up to be a special season, in the eyes of Rangerstown. With last night’s win, the Rangers are tied with the 2011-2012 team with 51 wins. They have won the Metropolitan Division, after a slow start to the season. And, they are in the running to be the top team in the Eastern Conference, as well as the NHL this season. If the Rangers win tonight, they could clinch the Presidents Trophy and have valuable home-ice throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.
New York Rangers
During the 2011-2012 season, the Rangers met these same Devils in the Eastern Conference Final at the Prudential Center, where they lost on a Adam Henrique goal and were eliminated in six games.
Fast forward three years later, and the Rangers have an opportunity to exact a little revenge. The two teams are polar opposites of each other this season. One is trending upwards, and the other downwards.
If the Rangers win tonight, it would be symbolic not just for another two points. The Rangers have an opportunity to surpass their predecessor with a win over the Devils. Also, a win tonight would come against a team that eliminated their playoff hopes in the 2012 ECF.
It would be the final nail in New Jersey’s coffin, this season.
With last night’s win, the team extended their winning streak to four games. On the road, the Rangers are 26-11-2. The Rangers were last at the Prudential Center back in October. The end result was a 4-3 overtime win thanks to Kevin Klein. Since that game, the Devils have only scored one goal in each of their last two games with the Rangers.
(32-34-13 with 77 points, seventh place in the Metropolitan Division)
As the Rangers have met success for much of this season, the same cannot be said for the Devils. Injuries and question marks behind the bench, including general manager Lou Lamriello coming down from the press box to try and manage the team on the ice, have made for a uncomfortable situation in New Jersey.
However, there is a bit of good news for the Devils. At home, they have a winning record with a 19-13-8 record. Also, they haven’t played since their game against the Rangers last Saturday, so they should be well-rested for tonight.
Despite this, the Devils are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games.
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After starting four straight games, Henrik Lundqvist may get the night off tonight. Especially playing games back to back, head coach Alain Vigneault‘s approach is normally putting in his backup. And for the Rangers, that will not be a bad option, at all.
The return of the Goalbuster, Cam Talbot, is expected to get the start in net.
The recipient of last night’s Steven McDonald Extra Effort award, Talbot will make his 34th start of the season, his second since Lundqvist’s return from injury.
In his last start against the Washington Capitals, he was on the wrong end of a 5-2 loss.
However, Talbot’s performance in Lundqvist’s absence was nothing short of remarkable. He won 15 games with two shutouts in 22 starts, during the months of February and March.
For the season, Talbot is 20-9-4 with a 2.21 GAA and save percentage of .926. This will be the first time he will face the Devils this season.
Despite last game, Schneider is expected to get the 67th start in goal for the Devils. Hoping to wash away what was last game, Schneider will be looking for a better start after being pulled.
If not, the Rangers-hater Kincaid could see some action tonight.
D, Kevin Klein (broken arm)