Series at a glance: New York-New Jersey Eastern Conference finals preview

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Schedule

All times Eastern; *if necessary

Game 1: Monday, May 14, at New York (8 p.m., NBCSN)
Game 2: Wednesday, May 16, at New York (8 p.m., NBCSN)
Game 3: Saturday, May 19, at New Jersey (1 p.m., NBC)
Game 4: Monday, May 21, at New Jersey (8 p.m., NBCSN)
*Game 5: Wednesday, May 23, at New York (8 p.m., NBCSN)
*Game 6: Friday, May 25, at New Jersey (8 p.m., NBCSN)
*Game 7: Sunday, May 27, at New York (8 p.m., NBCSN)

Three storylines to follow

1. The rivalry. 

By “rivalry” we mean this, mostly:

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As for individual beefs…

— John Tortorella vs. Peter DeBoer is a good one. Following the March line brawl, DeBoer called Torts a hypocrite. Torts responded by telling DeBoer to shut up.

— Brandon Dubinsky’s got issues with both David Clarkson and Ryan Carter. Just one catch: Dubi missed the entire second round series against Washington with a lower body injury.

— Mike Rupp and Cam Janssen have fought twice this year. So too have Brandon Prust and Eric Boulton. Sadly, it doesn’t look like either will get to the trilogy stage as Janssen and Boulton haven’t played at all this postseason.

— Martin Brodeur’s hatred of the Rangers dates all the way back to the 1992 playoffs vs. New York:

“I was part of the whole seven games,” Brodeur said. “I was on the bench. I was in the locker room. I got to hate the Rangers early on, got the taste of it. And all (this) year with what happened and all the new faces, we’ve got a little bit of that feeling.”

— And finally…if you’re talking the Devils-Rangers playoff rivalry, you have to mention this:

2. R&R.

The Devils haven’t played since Tuesday — they’ll have six full days off before beginning the series. That’s a far cry from the Rangers, who will have less than 48 hours to recover from their grueling seven game series against Washington (that, including all the overtime, was more like an eight-gamer.)

Also worth noting: New York has played 14 games in its first two series. Since the NHL playoffs expanded beyond two rounds in 1968, no team has won the Stanley Cup after playing the maximum 14 games in the opening rounds.

3. The goalies.

As two of the longest-tenured starters in the East, Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist have developed a friendly rivalry with one another. (The fact they play across the Hudson River from each other doesn’t hurt, either.) Individually, both have plenty at stake.

For Lundqvist, this is the crowning achievement of his career — while he’s enjoyed plenty of regular season success, he’s never played in a conference final.

For Brodeur, it could be his last kick at the can — he just turned 40 last week and his six-year, $31.2 million contract expires on July 1.

Records (reg. season)

No. 1 New York: 51-24-7, 109 points (1st in Atlantic) | No. 6 New Jersey: 48-28-6, 102 points (4th in Atlantic).

Leading playoff scorers

New York: Brad Richards (6G-5A-11PTS) | New Jersey: Ilya Kovalchuk (5G-7A-12PTS)

Starting goalies

New York: Henrik Lundqvist (7-6, 1.73 GAA) | Washington: Martin Brodeur (8-3, 2.05 GAA)

Head-to-head

Season series tied 3-3

Dec. 20: New York 4, at New Jersey 1
Jan. 31: at New Jersey 4, New York 3, SO
Feb. 7: New Jersey 1, at New York 0
Feb. 27: at New York 2, New Jersey 0
Mar. 6: at New Jersey 4, New York 1
Mar. 19: at New York 4, New Jersey 2

Playoff history

New York leads 4-1

1992: New York 4-3 (Patrick Division semis)
1994: New York 4-3 (Eastern Conference finals)
1997: New York 4-1 (Eastern Conference semis)
2006: New Jersey 4-0 (Eastern Conference quarters)
2008: New York 4-1 (Eastern Conference quarters)

2012 playoffs

New York: Def. Ottawa 4-3 (EC quarters), Def. Washington 4-3 (EC semis) | New Jersey: Def. Florida 4-3 (EC quarters), Def. Philadelphia 4-1 (EC semis)

2011 playoffs

New York: Lost to Washington 4-1 (EC quarters) | New Jersey: Did not qualify.

Stanley Cups

New York: Four (1928, 1933, 1940, 1994) | New Jersey: Three (1995, 2000, 2003)

Injuries

New York: Brandon Dubinsky (foot), Steve Eminger (ankle), Mats Zuccarello (wrist), Michael Sauer (concussion) | New Jersey: Jacob Josefson (wrist), Henrik Tallinder (leg)

Poll

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”