Particularly through the first two periods of Game 1, the New York Rangers learned what Jaromir Jagr marveled at in the semifinals: the New Jersey Devils are faster and tougher than maybe they realized. A big part of that challenge – especially for a Rangers team coming right back from a grinding seven-game series – was dealing with the Devils’ aggressive forecheck.
New York eventually did win Game 1 3-0, but that forecheck could be a factor as the series goes along (much like the Devils must figure out to deal with the Rangers’ shot-blocking). Rangers defensive wunderkind Ryan McDonagh told Patrick Kearns how they might deal with the forecheck.
“They come hard,” McDonagh said. “We need to just look for open guys or even open ice.”
Dan Girardi might be the best singular example of New York’s ups-and-downs in Game 1. He scored the game-winning goal early in the third period and won the Broadway Hat but also kicked himself for a turnover or two that could have turned the contest.
To some, that might be a sign of false modesty more than anything else, yet if the Devils keep forcing mistakes with that forecheck, this could end up being an arduous series for the Rangers.