Sunday, October 24, 2010

New York Rangers vs New Jersey Devils Pregame: Beware of Wounded Animals

New Jersey (2-5-1) @ Rangers (3-2-1)

Key Opposing Player: ZIP line (Zajac, Ilya, Parise)

Dubinsky - Anisimov - Callahan
Avery - Stepan – Fedotenko
Frolov - Christensen - Prust
Boogaard - White - Boyle

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi
Gilroy - Sauer

(No definitive word on Prust being a go or Hank in net as of now)

Coming off two very good outings resulting in victories and giving the Rangers a 3-2-1 overall season record they take on the rival New Jersey Devils tonight in the Garden.  The Devils on the hand come in as a wounded animal having an overall record of 2-5-1 and coming off an embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres last night.  To make things worse for the Devils Martin Brodeur had to come in for a relief outing last night and even with all their injuries they still chose to healthy scratch Ilya Kovalchuk.  Make it is seems like a sure thing for the Rangers doesn’t it?  I hope so, but I also warn that the Rangers better not look at it that way because a wounded animal is a very dangerous one.

The Rangers need look no further than themselves just two games ago when they came out with a sense of desperation against Toronto they had not shown all season that point.  Going back slightly further in terms of using a rivalry game to shake off the embarrassment of a prior performance the Rangers have to look no further than the mirror for what happened last season when they gave an awful effort at home against the Islanders and the next night came back and blew out the Isles on the island in a 5-2 win.  Not saying it will happen for the Devils that way, but if they have any pride in that room the effort will be much better tonight.  Look for a big effort from Kovalchuk, Parise and Zajac along with at least 2 fights to show the Devils have some fight in them. 

The Rangers will look to show that the last couple efforts were not another head fake but the beginning of consistent efforts each night and having an idea of the system they are going to play.  The Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan line will have to be big like they have been all season, though tonight their D might be just as important as their O in helping to contain the Devils top line.  The Devils offense has put on a Rangers like showing so far this year with 14 goals in 8 games and failing to win a game that Martin “

If the Rangers keep getting the defensive effort they have gotten from Staal, Rozsival, Girardi the last couple of games they are going to have chances most nights to be in the game.  Henrik Lundqvist will look to build on last night’s performance against a team he normally plays very well against with an 18-7-5 1.92GAA .933SV% career vs NJ.

Another thing to consider is that the Devils are 0-4-1 at home vs 2-1 on the road while the Rangers 0-1-1 at home and 3-1 on the road.  Those two combinations lend themselves to this being a close game or at least closer than some might expect based on recent results.

Prediction: Rangers 4-2 w late empty netter.

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