NHL Playoffs Picks 5/16: Devils Rangers Game Two Eastern Conference Finals
NHL Playoffs Picks and Predictions, Wednesday 5/16: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers, Game Two – Eastern Conference Finals
The New York Rangers are boring. Get used to hearing it because just about every analyst in hockey is going to say it. Personally, I don’t find it all that boring. I’m on the edge of my seat for 0-0 ties and love defense. I grew up idolizing a team that ran the trap to three Stanley Cup wins. This is sort of fun for me in a sick way. The Devils made two huge errors and the Rangers capitalized for goals. Two breakaways were broken up when Devils players elected to come back to the middle instead of firing on Lundqvist and Rangers defensemen made great plays. Henrik Lundqvist was great, the Rangers blocked 26 shots, and New Jersey looked like they were surprised that New York clogged shooting lanes and packed their forwards into the goal crease. In Game two, can they remember how to open up the ice against a tired Rangers team? Firing shots into legs clearly didn’t work the first time around.
Game Two is all about adjustments. As we saw last night, the Phoenix Coyotes couldn’t adjust to the depth and skill of the LA Kings. They were forced into sloppy mistakes and took way too many penalties. The game was never close. Luckily for the New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers don’t dominate play in the same way the Kings do. The Rangers block shots, suffocate offenses, force turnovers, and grind out wins. Even though New York was relatively dominant in Game One, it was a 0-0 tie in the third period. If the Devils can find a way around New York’s system, which they should be plenty familiar with by now, they can steal one. The Rangers likely won’t bury the Devils early – but can New Jersey recover from such a frustrating first game at the Garden?
New Jersey Devils (+115) at New York Rangers
Here we go again – same moneyline, same teams, same scenario. The Rangers were expected to win Game One on home ice, so the Devils really shouldn’t panic here. New York took care of business, which is a huge first step in this series, but it would be more surprising if the underdog Devils stole a game at the Garden than New York holding serve.
I still believe in my breakdown of this series in terms of matchup advantages favoring the Devils (except for Lundqvist). A Henrik Lundqvist shutout happens every once in a while – it’s like losing to an ace pitcher. The question now becomes whether the Devils can adjust their game, because simply having an aggressive forecheck is not enough to beat the New York Rangers. The Rangers have speedy defensemen, a great system, patience, and a hot goalie. New Jersey needs to try something new because Game One looked like one of the dominant regular season games the Rangers had over the Devils. That comes as a pretty big surprise, considering New Jersey won three of the six meetings and had plenty of successes to build off of.
I have faith in Pete DeBoer, which is not something I thought I’d say a month or so ago. DeBoer developed a pressure offense that New Jersey hadn’t used all year to take advantage of Philadelphia injuries and weak defense. Bryzgalov was great in the series, but the Devils were way too much. He needs to reach back into that bag of tricks and find something new again. Whether it’s a better cycle, more creative point play, or getting to the dirty spots on the ice with bigger role players, New Jersey needs to try something new.
Look for the Devils to come out with even more energy early on. There was no rust in Game One (their collapse happened in the third period), but the Rangers seemed more in control even as the Devils buzzed. New Jersey has a little bit of that underdog desperation they seem to cherish.
Stay out of the box, grind out chances, and rely on the talent of the top two lines to create offense. Oh, and MISS THE SKATES IN FRONT OF YOU.
Devils 3 – Rangers 2
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