NHL Playoffs Picks 5/21: Rangers Devils Game Four Prediction
NHL Playoffs Picks and Predictions, Monday 5/21: New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils – Game Four, Eastern Conference Finals
Henrik Lundqvist posted another shutout in Game Three, which makes two shutouts for Lundqvist and two wins for the Rangers. The Devils dominated the first two periods of play, which makes roughly six of the nine periods favoring the Devils by my scorecard. This serious continues to get more dangerous to cap as New Jersey displays periods of utter domination, but the Rangers have a brick wall in net. Can New Jersey crack the Rangers after another shutout? Will the Rangers grab a two-game lead for the first time this postseason?
The Coyotes survived to force Game Five in Phoenix, and as my cross-country playoff road trip continues, I’ll be in attendance. I liked the way the Coyotes played in Game Four – desperate but controlled hockey that forced the Kings out of their system. Their backs were to the wall, and a team with solid goaltending, leadership, and coaching finally showed up. I expect the New Jersey Devils to do the same to the New York Rangers in Newark on Monday night.
New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils (-115)
Despite two nearly identical 3-0 victories by the Rangers, this series is incredibly tight. Both of the Rangers “convincing” margins stemmed from 0-0 games entering the third period. Both games featured forty minutes of Devils hockey that seemed to control the game, but Henrik Lundqvist proved impenetrable.
When the Devils failed to score despite numerous chances in the first and second periods, momentum quickly shifted entirely to the Rangers. New York, happy to be tied, capitalized on Devils mistakes late in Game One and Three. The Rangers exploded for three goals in the third period of each Lundqvist shutout. The Devils seemed to burn out from surges that went unproductive.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much Martin Brodeur can do in this series. In Game One, Devils lapses on defense broke the game open despite vintage acrobatics. In Game Three, a power play goal broke the seal. Brodeur has made countless incredible saves, but the Devils cannot leave him out to dry in Game Four.
The Devils need to play a crisp game and get to Lundqvist early. The Rangers are able to control the game when they have a lead, but if New Jersey can keep the pressure on the Rangers it takes them out of their suffocating system. The Devils need to capitalize on their chances and take control of the game. Low-scoring games, as good as Martin Brodeur has been, absolutely favor the Rangers. The Devils need to get to the dirty spots on the ice and open up play like they did in Game Two.
I see Game Four going like Game Two. The Devils responded once and they should be able to respond again. This will be a back and forth, fun series. With all of New Jersey’s offensive firepower, I don’t see another Lundqvist shutout on the horizon.
Devils 3 – Rangers 2
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