The Time: 7:00 PM ET
The Broadcast: TV - ESPN, SN360, TVAS2, MSG, MSGSN
The Series Preview
For a more thorough look at the matchup, see John’s series preview.
Life in the Series
Game 3 was a must-win for the Devils. If they lose game 3, they are down 3-0 in the series and nobody comes back from that. Hamilton’s overtime winner gave the Devils life, where a win in game 4 suddenly makes the Devils massive favourites to move on to the second round, having all the momentum and home ice to boot. Granted, the Rangers, having blown a 2-0 series lead last year to Tampa, will come out with as much desperation as we have seen in the playoffs so far this year. But the Devils have the momentum, courtesy of Dougie’s overtime snipe. Game 3, when both teams played well, mirrored what we saw in the regular season, where games were tight, both on the ice and on the scoreboard. All this considered, game 4 is a coin toss, with the Rangers probably owning a slight probabilistic advantage. The Devils, then, might lose game 4 and will then be down and out for the series. But given where we were following game 2, now being just a flip of a coin away from being favourites feels pretty pretty good.
There are no injuries to report for either team. A lot of guys have been going down in the other series, so it is good to see that the Devils have retained their health and, from a humane perspective, that the Rangers are doing well too.
Yesterday was a rest day for the Devils.
Today is a quieter day for #NJDevils. We’ll catch up with Lindy Ruff at 2pm before the team heads back to NY for the night.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) April 23, 2023
I kind of respect this. The boys played very well, played their game, and with a super emotional ending, playing extra time and ending late, I can understand the need for some extra rest. As Matt pointed out in his recap of game 3, the Devils dominated in terms of high-danger chances at 5-on-5, having four times as many, essentially, as the Rangers. Per NaturalStattrick, the Devils had 56.2% of xG at 5-on-5 and 53.7% of scoring chances. This was very very welcome for the Devils. They have to keep it up, and after seeing the playoffs proof of concept, that their speed game works, that they do not have to grit it out, I trust that they will play their game again tonight. I do not anticipate any lineup changes, although seeing Luke Hughes would still make a lot of sense to me.
Regarding the Rangers, they too did not practice:
No practice today for #NYR, but we met with Gallant and a couple players.— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) April 23, 2023
GG said this about the Game 3 loss: "I think we played the same game (as Games 1 and 2). We didn't execute nearly as well. That was the only thing. I thought the passing wasn’t as crisp and the shooting."
Reading Gallant’s comments makes it sound like he attributes the Devils win more to the Rangers playing poorly rather than the Devils playing well. I guess it can be a bit of both, but it is interesting for him to not mention the Devils at all, at least in this comment. Naturally, coaches are deep into the mental games, but regardless, he was not super happy with his team’s performance. I would be surprised to see the Rangers change anything, however, as there is a lot of evidence from games 1 and 2 that his plan works, and the Rangers did still take game 3 to overtime and had good chances to win it.
This is it for the series, I think. Whoever wins this one goes on to the next round. Do you think the Devils will do it? If so, who will play a big role? Do you want any lineup changes? The Rangers will be hurting after the OT loss, so it will be fascinating to see how much it affects them. Please let’s not Krieder score again. Let me know in the comments and thank you for reading.