New York Rangers v New Jersey Devils - Game Four

Rangers, Devils downplay tensions going into Game 5


As the New York Rangers-New Jersey Devils series shifts to a pivotal Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, it’s hard not to wonder if there will be more “fireworks” after Monday’s memorable outbursts. Both teams shook off thoughts of emotions taking over, as Dave Lozo reports.

“It’s all forgotten. It’s the playoffs,” Martin Brodeur said. “I think you need to put everything in check, and what happened in one game usually doesn’t carry in the other ones. But we know that it’s going to be emotional. It’s a hostile environment in the Garden.”

When asked about the verbal confrontation with John Tortorella, Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said he believes “emotion takes over.” That’s essentially the same explanation Mike Rupp gave for his run-in with Brodeur and the scuffles that ensued.

“I just responded in that moment,” Rupp said. “That was that. Nothing else going on there besides that. Those things happen in this game. There’s really not much more than that. In those two seconds, no, I don’t have time to think about anything. It’s just a reaction.”

In other words, players seem to believe that any exchanges will happen organically; they won’t need history to steer violence. Then again, that might also be a personal thing. Certain players seem to have developing beefs, which might be most noticeable in the mini-feud between bit players Stu Bickell and Ryan Carter.

Both teams would be wise to keep cool heads in Game 5 because a bad penalty or two could turn the tide of that contest (and perhaps the series).

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.