The second half of a back-to-back, against our most hated.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (12-12-6) vs. the New York Rangers (22 -10 -1)
The Time: 7:30 PM ET
The Broadcast: TV – MSG, MSG+2; Radio - 660 AM & 101.9 FM WFAN; Digital Audio – The One Jersey Network
The Last Devils Game: The Devils faced the Senators last night. They lost to the score of 3-1. The Senators outshot the Devils 31-30, and outhit the Devils 29-20. In the first period, the first Senators goal occurred because Bobby Ryan entered the zone, and batted the puck to Chris Kelly. Chris Kelly then shot the puck and it deflected off Bobby Ryan and into the net. This was four minutes into the game. John Moore then tied the game 11 minutes in, and tied the game 1-1 on a rather basic looking goal. At this point, the game looked somewhat salvageable.
And then the 2nd period occurred, where Brassard scored on a tip-in one minute in. At this point, the score was 2-1. At this point, the Devils tried to get into it, but it ended 3-1 on a Zack Smith goal. A hard fought-game, and a disappointing loss.
Overall though, it was a better game. The Devils weren’t completely dominated for the first time in a while, and hope wasn’t lost in the 1st or 2nd period. Hopefully, the Devils can continue playing with this urgency.
The Last Rangers Game: The Rangers faced the Predators last night. They beat the Predators 2-1 in a shootout. The Predators outshot the Rangers 32-27. Rick Nash scored first eight minutes in, 1-0 Rangers. Rick Nash’s goal was particularly good, as he skated across the ice, and sniped a shot over Saros’ shoulder. Mike Fisher then tied it up in the 2nd, shooting a wrister through the screen. The game went to a shootout, where the Rangers’ Jimmy Vesey and Mats Zuccarello scored, and the game ended 2-1. Nashville gives up 2.83 goals a game on average, so hopefully this is a good sign for the Devils game. Based on the stats, it seemed like a relatively neck-and-neck game, but if anyone watched the Rangers game, let me know how it was.
What to Look For?: Pavel Zacha, Beau Bennett, and PA Parenteau should not be scratched. When I saw this in the pre-game lineups, I was immediately annoyed. Pavel Zacha especially, should not be scratched. If a 19 year old is in the NHL, he should be playing, and getting developed, not sitting in the bench. It’s not like the Devils are playing anyone better either — Luke Gazdic is playing only about 5 minutes on the ice a night. I understand that Hynes is trying to add physicality — but it seems contradictory to only use it for five minutes a game. I questioned the signing before, and I question it even more now (if that’s possible).
A Very Cold Winter: The Devils have now lost 12 of their last 15. Any hope had after a wonderful start to the season seems over now. They’ve been atrocious defensively and offensively during this time. In their five game losing streak, they’ve given up four or more goals each time, and have scored two or less goals a game. Schneider and the defense have been struggling, and against the Rangers, it’s unlikely it will end.
The Rangers’ Dynamic Forwards: With the league’s 3rd highest average scoring, at 3.30 goals a game, this team can score really really well. They currently have seven players projected to score over 20 goals on the season, with two of them projected to get over 30 goals on the year. For comparison, the Devils have only have three players projected to score 30 or more goals on the season, and Cammalleri is projected to get 30 goals. Based on the last result, and the Devils’ current struggles, I’m not optimistic about this game at all. The 5-0 loss to the Rangers on the 11th showed the Rangers firepower, with Kreider, Vesey, Pirri, Miller and even Brady Skjei scoring against the Devils.
Starting Goaltenders: Today is likely going to be Schneider vs. Raanta part two. Raanta’s been playing incredibly well this season, with an 8-2-0 record and a .941 save percentage. Schneider, not so much. His numbers have really taken a hit because of his recent struggles, and he now finds himself with a 9-9-4 record, and a .905 save percentage. While I first resigned that Schneider was just in the middle of a cold streak, I’ve started to become concerned now. I still have hope that Schneider will recover, and play better, but I’m becoming less confident now.
Overall Thoughts: There’s not much to say about this. The Devils just recently played the Rangers last week, and we all know how that turned out. Let me know what you guys think will happen, and have a good day!