The buildup for this series sees the upstart Devils, facing a Rangers team that took that leap a season ago and enter as the favorites despite being the lower seed. Ironically, the last time both teams made the playoffs at the same time was in 2012, when they eventually squared off in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Battle of the Hudson has even reached my family’s weekly Strat-O-Matic league. For those unaware, Strat-O-Matic hockey, is a board game comprised of player cards based on statistics from the previous season. It’s essentially fantasy hockey on a board. We decided to do an NHL-style league where you control a team, and coincidentally, the Rangers and Devils(Yes, the rosters have been updated) will be meeting up in the first round of the playoffs this week.
It’s the postseason rematch fans have waited 11 years to see again. These two rivals are evenly matched, and one could make valid arguments for either to advance. Ultimately, I see the play of Igor Shesterkin being the difference. Rangers in seven.