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Game Preview #54: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers

A week after a dramatic home win against the Rangers, the Devils now visit Our Hated Rivals in the Garden. The Devils are fresh off two SO losses and hungry for 2 crucial points in the increasingly tight wild card race.

Fist Pumping is alive and well in Jersey
Fist Pumping is alive and well in Jersey
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Time: 7:00pm

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+ ; Radio - 660 AM & 101.9 FM WFAN

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (26-20-7) at the New York Rangers (29-18-5; SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter)

The Last Devils Game: The Devils were in a vegetative state for the first 40 minutes against the best-record-in-the-NHL Washington Captials and still managed to force a shootout. Andre Burakovsky got a piece of a Justin Williams shot in the second period as part of the Capitals thorough 2-period domination including a shot attempt differential of 35-21. Then in the third we came alive. Joseph Blandisi continued his surprising production by punching in a Travis Zajac shot that squeezed through Vezina-favorite Braden Holtby on the powerplay. Adam Henrique then scored trailing an odd-man rush and catching Holtby totally off guard. However, Paul Carey picked great freaking time to score his first NHL goal ever and tie the game at 2. A penalty at the end of regulation made the OT a 4-on-4 instead of a 3-on-3 basically and eventually we found ourselves back in the shootout.

The Devils Shooters: 1st year NHLers Reid Boucher and Bandisi, and perennial underachiever Jacob Josefson.

The Capitals Shooters: Great American Hero T.J. OshieEvgeny Kuznetsov (5th in NHL in scoring), and the defining goal scorer of our generation ,Alex Ovechkin.

Oshie score with a laser wrist shot, and Ovechkin made Cory Schneider look silly to win the shootout 2-1. John recapped it here.

The Last Rangers Game: Our Hated Rivals had a dramatic win against the the Second Rate Rivals in Philly on Saturday night. After a scoreless first, Shayne Gostisbehere put the Philadelphia Flyers up in the with a powerplay goal 7 minutes into the second. That goal would serve as the lone tally until Chris Kreider responded earlier in the third. However, that tie would last only 2 and a half minutes as Ryane White would put the Flyers back ahead for most of the rest of the game. Until--that is--Keith Yandle scored on a slapshot with the goalie pulled and 23 seconds left. After a scoreless OT, the Flyers' Sam Gagner and Claude Giroux failed to score while Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello finished on theirs -- rendering the 3rd round moot and the Rangers the winners.

The big story from this game though was Wayne Simmons losing it and sucker-punching Ranger Captain Ryan McDonagh in the face.

Mcdonagh would not return and, as of this writing, there is no update as to his status for this game. Bryan Winters did the Recap for Blueshirt Banter.

The Last Devils-Rangers Game: One week ago, the Devils won what felt like the biggest game of the year. J.T. Miller got the first goal for the Rags. Lee Stempniak would answer that on a deflection from an Eric Gelinas shot in the second. Miller then put the team on his back and scored another goal to put his team ahead 2 minutes into the third. Blandisi scored on an absolutely electric play and then inspired .gifs galore with his celebration. Then David Schlemko put the Devils ahead for good with the second PP goal of the game.

The Rangers were controlling possession for the vast majority of the game in this one. The Devils were treading water with the exception of two extremely productive powerplays, both of which resulted in goals. According to War-on-Ice, we registered 10 attempts for 7 shots on goal and 6 scoring chances in the two man-advantages. The special teams, and Cory making 31 saves led the Devils to victory. Alex handled the recap for this one.

The Goal: Limit scoring Rangers chances at evens. The Rangers are a better possession team than the Devils, but are actually worse in scoring chance ratio (per War-on-Ice). In the last game we played against them though, the 5v5 scoring chance differential was 20-11 in favor of the Rangers. We normally talk about the Devils needing to help out Cory by giving him some goal support and limiting the shots.But, Cory is saving 97% of low-danger shots -- 3rd in the NHL among regular starters. If we can just give him a little bit of support -- enough to prevent the scoring chances from stacking up -- then Schneider can deal with the volume. Combine that with owning the special team battle again, and we should have a perfect recipe for dealing with the Rags strengths.

The Injured Leaders: Michael Cammalleri is injured still and will be missing at least today and tomorrow.

Cammy has now missed 3 games in a row, and 11 of the last 15. The Devils have been surprisingly resourceful in the depth of forwards with Lee Stempniak routine proving his value and leading the Devils in points, as well as the young guys stepping up (more on them later).

Ryan McDonagh is huge for the Rangers. In addition to being the heart of the team as the captain, he is also their best defender and most reliable okay not named Henrik Lunqvist. He plays 3 minutes on the PK (most on team), 22 minutes per game (most on the team) and has 9 points in his last 12. It sounds like he was being held out as a precaution, but if he actually misses time or is less than 100%, that's a huge plus for The Good Guys. Especially with Kevin Klein (who's been arguably even better than McD) out indefinitely with a fractured thumb.

Young Guns: Blandisi has been on fire. He's got 10 points in 14 games and he has legitimized our top 6. In fact, he's been so good that Hynes plugged him in Cammy's spot on the top line and pulled Sergey Kalinin back up to the 2nd line. JaJo and Boucher need to prove that the 3rd line wasn't a flash in the pan. Boucher had 2 GWG in his first two games up and has been dormant since. One of the 4 young guys mentioned here will need to give us something on the scoreboard.

The Rangers big young gun offensively is J.T. Miller. He is one of the only positive Corsi players on the team and he has regular zone-start percentage so its not due to sheltering. He is also scoring the most points per minute at evens on the team. The guy is lightspeed fast and can give any team fits.

Mismatch?: The last time we played these guys, The Rangers line of Zuccarello, Stepan, and Kreider just humiliated the line of Zajac, Palmieri, and Kalinin. Check out the Corsi chart from War-on-Ice. Ouch. So it's gonna be on Hynes to either mix things up, or figure out how to contain a line that so vastly outperformed the lesser of our top 6.

Your Thoughts?: What do you think about this game? What are the things you'll watch for? What do you think our chances are? What does this game mean for the Wild Card? Leave your thoughts below!