The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (52-22-8 in regular season) versus the New York Rangers (47-22-13 in regular season)
The Time: 7:00 PM ET
The Broadcast: TV - MSGSN2 (MSGSN for the NYR broadcast), TBS, TVAS2, SN360
Devils: The only injured player for the Devils in Jonathan Bernier on LTIR. He has not played a game since the beginning of the 2021-22 season. So, pretty much irrelevant to this series.
Michael McLeod appears ready to go after taking a hit to the head from Brad Marchand on April 8.
With both teams being as close to completely healthy as you can get in the NHL, there shouldn’t be any “we would’ve won if x wasn’t injured!” A very fair start to the series health-wise.
Devils: The practice lines for the Devils yesterday morning:
Final #NJDevils practice before Game 1… all players on the ice which means plenty of options to choose from.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) April 17, 2023
For now, here’s how they’ve been taking rotations at practice: pic.twitter.com/xBwoMZgHKZ
I expect Boqvist and Bastian to play over Sharangovich and Lazar. Luke Hughes does not appear to be slated to play the opening game of the playoffs, as he and Brendan Smith are the 4th D pair on this list. Vanecek is the starter.
The PP units also got some work at practice today. They are as follows:
#NJDevils PP units:— x - Sam Kasan (@samikasan) April 17, 2023
PP1: Hamilton, Hughes, Bratt, Meier, Hischier
PP2: Severson, Tatar, Palat, Haula, Mercer
Rangers: These were the Rangers practice lines yesterday
Ok - enough Jalen Hurts extension talk.— Nick Faria (@Nick_Faria1720) April 17, 2023
At #NYR practice a day before their first-round matchup.
Matchups/Keys to the Game:
I think John pretty much had everything covered. If you want a more in-depth preview of the series with everything you need to know about the matchup, check out his series preview here.
In short, the Devils should try to stay out of the box against OHR’ exceptional power play. The Devils did a good job of not taking too many penalties in the regular season and they need to continue that against OHR. I agree with him that the Devils should try to pin OHR’s more offense heavy players in the d-zone, but I figure the Tatar-Hischier-Mercer line and Graves-Marino pair probably get that assignment instead. Those 5 can shut just about anyone down and that’s what I expect them to be assigned to do. The Devils are the better 5v5 team on both offense and defense. If Vanecek keeps being slightly above average, Shesterkin doesn’t turn into the second coming, and the Devils stay out of the box, it shouldn’t be too difficult of a game or series. Game 1 tonight at 7. Let’s go Devils.
What do you think about tonight’s game? Leave your excitement, thoughts, predictions, and Rangers hate in the comments below, and thank you for reading.