Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Game: Rangers @ Devils, 5 of 8

The New Jersey Devils will host the New York Rangers tonight at the Continental Airlines Arena.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils' Record Vs. Rangers: 1-2-1
NHL.com Preview

Now, I despise the Rangers; so I don't think I need give you three guesses as to what I want to see tonight. Regardless, the Rangers are leading this season series and now is the time for New Jersey to not only get it back but also extend their lead over the Rangers in the Atlantic Division. The Devils are a hot squad, they finally beat the Atlanta Thrashers last Friday, won in overtime to defeat the Islanders on Long Island, and are 11-2-2 in their last 15 games. The Rangers got back to their winning ways with a 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday, which was televised nationally on NBC.

As is my understanding, the Rangers will throw out one line filled with three of their top four scorers. Likely, Martin Straka (24 G, 31 A), Michael Nylander (15 G, 37 A), and Jaromir Jagr (17 G, 42 A). It will be up to the Devils' checking line of Jay Pandolfo, John Madden, and Sergei Brylin to stop them. Pandolfo has experience in shutting down Jaromir Jagr, however he can not let up for one second (and coach Claude Julien should not keep him from covering him even after he scores). The fourth scorer, likely Brendan Shanahan, will line up with one of the many Rangers "character" forwards like Blair Betts or Marcel Hossa. The Devils can not take him lightly either as Shanahan - or whoever the fourth scorer is - has been very productive. This isn't even mentioning the possible power play implications; I should not have to even mention that the Devils must remain disciplined. The Rangers are way too talented to be given numerous man advantages. It's a good thing Colin White is back, the Devils defense will need to be play well in addition to the work the checking line will have.

On offense, the Devils will need to beat the Rangers with speed. Last time, the Rangers instituted a Christmas-tree like formation to plug up the Devils up top and battle them on the sides. It was successful in reducing the effectiveness of their forwards. After thinking about it, I would not be surprised if the Rangers will institute it a second time. The Devils will need to hit the Rangers on breakouts and counter attacks to get into their offensive zone before they have a chance to set up into any kind of formation. If the Rangers are in such a formation, they will either need to quickly break it by rushing the puck up to the end of the neutral zone on one end - luring a Ranger away - and making a quick pass to the center or across the rink to a Devil who will hopefully have some space and time to maintain possession. The problem with that idea is that it can be prone to offsides and it fails if the Ranger doesn't bite on the puck carrier. In any case, that's my idea of beating that formation. In general, the Devils will need to make the most of any power plays they get and put pressure on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist early and often with shots, regardless of how the Devils get into the zone. The EGG and PZL lines will need to hustle tonight; keep an eye out on Brian Gionta. He's been hot with 5 goals and 3 assists in his last 7 games. It would not surprise me if he gets another goal tonight.

I have a class tonight, so I won't see this game until after it's over. As I mentioned earlier, I despise the Rangers; so I'd like to see a big win for NJ tonight. GO DEVILS.


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