While today may be full of changes and the Rangers and Devils may be a part of that, when they square off tonight at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) it’ll be just like nothing ever changed as a rivalry gets recharged.
The Devils head into tonight’s game with a 2-1-0 record against the Rangers this season, but trail the East leaders by 10 points. The Devils have been cruising of late thanks to the stellar play of Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk has been putting in a Herculean, almost MVP-like effort this season as he’s evolved his game from being straight offense into being a very well-rounded game. Hey, whoever thought you’d see Kovalchuk killing penalties?
Kovalchuk along with Zach Parise gives New Jersey a dynamic one-two punch. Add in stellar rookie Adam Henrique and surprise 20-goal scorer David Clarkson and you’ve got a Devils team that isn’t like the Devils you got to know in the past. These Devils get it done by scoring goals. With Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg, New Jersey has the oldest goalie tandem in the league but they’ve got all the veteran wiles to continue being frustrating to deal with.
The Rangers, meanwhile, just keep on keeping on. They’re coming off a stirring overtime win against Buffalo on Saturday that saw Ryan Callahan continue to build his legend in New York City scoring the game-winner. Callahan along with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards gives the Rangers a multi-talented trio of guys that can beat you offensively. Toss in a little bit of Derek Stepan up front and Michael Del Zotto on the blue line and you’ve got a lot of problems to deal with.
The one place where the Rangers have the Devils beaten is in goal. I know, it sounds blasphemous to put down Martin Brodeur but with the way Henrik Lundqvist has played this year, King Henrik is the toast of the town now. Lundqvist is near the top of all the goalie stat categories and on nights where New York’s offense slumps, Lundqvist locks it down to make sure the Rangers can win one-goal games.
One guy you can probably count on not seeing in tonight’s game is Rick Nash as the Rangers are reportedly out of the running for the Blue Jackets winger. Anything can happen on deadline day which means we could see sudden changes before these teams drop the puck tonight.