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Game 62 Preview: New Jersey Devils vs New York Rangers

A big game from Patrik Elias could help the Devils avoid a mini-slump
A big game from Patrik Elias could help the Devils avoid a mini-slump

The Time: 7:30 PM EDT

The Broadcast: TV - Versus NBCSN (It will be forever be Versus to me); Radio - 660 AM WFAN

The Game: The New Jersey Devils (35-22-4) vs. the New York Rangers (39-15-6)

The Last Rangers Game: The Rangers were visited by the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. The game went into overtime, however Ryan Callahan scored and helped the Rangers seal an overtime victory for the Rangers. Bryan Winters has a recap of the game over here on Blueshirt Banter.

The Last Devils Game: The Devils came out firing in the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, a couple of bad defensive plays and three Martin St. Louis goals later, the Devils came up short 4-3. John has a recap of the game here.

The Last Devils-Rangers Game: The Devils went into hostile territory, got a few cheers (trolololol) and came out of Madison Square Garden with a 1-0 win- albeit with some "controversy", which included referees making an obvious call about goaltender interference. John has a recap of the game here, while Bryan Winters thinks the Rangers were "robbed" of a point that night in his recap(again, hooray for competent referees who understand what goaltender interference is).

The Goal: The Devils should take a page out of LMFAO's playbook and take lots of SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS (Warning- terrible music beyond that link) and more importantly, clean up the rebounds. The Devils put up 22 shots against Tampa Bay's weak and depleted defensive unit, which is pretty terrible considering that they are not very good. The Rangers on the other hand have a much better goaltender than the Lightning do and NHL defensemen who aren't terrible in their own zone. If the Devils want to beat the Rangers, they're going to need to throw everything (including the kitchen sink) at them, twice because that's what it's going to take to beat Henrik Lundqvist. There's some good news- the Rangers are one of the better teams when it comes to preventing shots, however they don't get a lot of shots on net. Which means that the Devils should be able to outshoot the Rangers, assuming they don't play like they did last night.

More thoughts and analysis after the jump. As always, check out Blueshirt Banter if you (for some odd reason) want a Rangers perspective.

First off, I'd like to mention a potential wild card in tonight's affair- Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash. No, he's not scheduled to play in tonight's game... yet. The Rangers are one of the few teams in on Nash, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs (obviously), the San Jose Sharks and the Philadelphia Flyers (side note: lol Holmgren). According to Sportsnet's Nick "those [expletives] at TSN" Kypreos, the Rangers are backing up on Nash, which means that he might not be a Ranger after 3 PM tomorrow. If the Rangers do however land Nash, he could potentially be playing tomorrow. Even if he doesn't play, he could provide a bit of a Morale boost for the Rangers, who could come out pumped knowing that they could have the missing piece to their team. Or alternatively, he's not going to be a Ranger tomorrow night and nothing will change.

30 Rock

The most obvious and most important part of the New York Rangers is Henrik Lundqvist. He's been one of the most dominant goaltenders in the league, and with out him the Rangers wouldn't exactly be the best team in the league.

2011 - Henrik Lundqvist 45 2723 29 12 81 1.78 1341 1260 .940 7

Those stats are pretty impressive- he's sporting a .940 sv % (.945 at even strength), which in itself is absurd. That number's bound to go down, but it doesn't mean it's going to happen tonight. Regardless, he should provide the Devils with a challenge. He gave up only one goal the last time the two teams faced, but this time around the Devils might need more than one goal tonight. If not Lundqvist, the Devils will face Martin Biron. However, considering Biron has been struggling recently, I think the Rangers are going to go with Lundqvist considering he will give the Rangers the best chance to win.

Conversely, the Devils also have someone who wears #30- Martin Brodeur. While he hasn't been as dominant as Lundqvist this year, he was the better goalie the last time these two teams faced off. However, there's one big difference- Brodeur will be starting the second of a back to back game. Hopefully he doesn't show any signs of fatigue tonight- especially with the week ahead. Although considering that the Lightning didn't get too many pucks on net yesterday, I don't think fatigue might be the big issue here.

Well Balanced Attack

The Devils and Rangers both feature balanced scoring acts- the Devils feature 8 players with 20 or more points, while the Rangers have 10 players with 20 or more points. While the Devils do have the better scorers, the Rangers make up for it with a more balanced attack all across the board. The three guys the Devils should be aware of are Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan.

2011 - Marian Gaborik 60 29 24 53 17 32 7 0 6 207

2011 - Ryan Callahan 60 24 21 45 2 55 11 1 7 183

2011 - Derek Stepan 60 13 26 39 22 12 3 0 3 128

These three are probably the most dangerous skaters on the Rangers. They're not exactly dominant possession players, but they are very dangerous when they do have the puck, and they're all pretty quick. If the Devils aren't keeping an eye on these three, they might catch the Devils off guard. Another guy to watch out for is Carl Hagelin. He's not a dangerous scorer, but he's a possession machine (8.62 corsion, 28.1 SF/60). He can drive play forward, so hopefully the Devils keep an eye on him.

As for their defense, they've been getting solid contributions from their blueline. Michael Del Zotto (33 points), Ryan McDonaugh (23 points) and Dan Girardi (20 points). The Rangers blueliners are good at preventing shots and contributing offensively, so that's another aspect of the Rangers offense the Devils should watch for.

Back To Backs, Other Concerns

- The Devils are 7-3-0 in the second game of back to back games. They're 2-2-0 in back to backs after a loss. They should be able to rebound, however lets hope that they get the results instead of just outplaying the superior opponent.

- Zidlickymania didn't exactly run wild last night- however Marek Zidlicky did look pretty decent on the power play. He's a much better passer than Kurtis Foster was, which was apparent. He's also significantly more mobile and creative with the puck, which allows the Devils to attack from different angles, as opposed to the "get the puck to the point and unload" strategy with Foster.

- Speaking of defensemen, I would like to see Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador re-united for tonight's game. While the Devils did shut down Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis ran all over them yesterday. Adam Larsson, Salvador's partner last night didn't exactly have a great game after his return from injury. Having the two big shutdown defensemen together should help the Devils shut down the Rangers' offense. If that does happen, Mark Fayne should play with Zidlicky- he might not be the big physical presence Volchenkov is but he's defensively sound and should be able to cover for Zidlicky when he joins in on the play.

- I'm expecting Cam Janssen to be in tonight against the Rangers and their tough guys. Outside of the fight with Mike Rupp 5 seconds into the game, hopefully he's invisible and doesn't get caught out on line changes. Because i'm pretty sure that John Tortorella will try his best to get Gaborik or Callahan out against Janssen.

- A 60 minute effort would be nice this time around. 20 minutes of solid play wasn't enough to beat a bottom feeder in the east, is 20 minutes of solid play going to help them beat the best team in the east? The Devils need to show up for the entire game. Showing up early and then hoping for last minute heroics isn't going to be enough. Pucks aren't always going to bounce off a stanchion right to David Clarkson. I'm not expecting them to score 6 goals on Henrik Lundqvist in the first, and one good period won't be enough to beat the Rangers. If the Devils played on their opponent's level last night (terrible), they better play on their opponent's level tonight.

- Also relating to my last point- the Devils need to be the sharpest in the 3rd period. The last time these two teams faced off, the Rangers out-shot the Devils 15-1 in the 3rd, with the Devils holding on to a 1 goal lead. The Devils weren't exactly the better team yesterday in the 3rd. Hopefully the Devils will have a much better showing in the 3rd.

- For some odd reason, I feel that the game will be decided by a lucky bounce for a team.

Those are my thoughts on tonight's game. Do you think the Devils can stop this mini-slump tonight? What do you think is going to be the biggest concern tonight against the Rangers? Do you think that the Devils will have a poor performance like they did yesterday, or continue to look like the team that was dominating like they were a week ago? Feel free to leave thoughts and concerns about tonight's game in the comment. Thank you for reading.