The Devils head to Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers for the first time this season. Tonight’s game will mark the beginning of a four game road trip for New Jersey that ends with another matchup at MSG next Sunday.
In a bit of a surprise, Antti Raanta will get his third straight start for the Rangers. He’s coming off a shutout in Chicago the other night and has impressed this season. In nine starts, he’s 7-1 with a 1.83 goals against average and .939 save percentage. This will be the first time Lundqvist hasn’t played against the Devils at MSG since before December 2006, per Steve Zipay.
What to Watch
- Despite their 19-9-1 record, the Rangers are one of the worst possession teams in the league at 46.6%. Only the Islanders and Coyotes are worse than them. They also give up 57.3 shot attempts per 60, so New Jersey should get their fair share of pucks thrown at Raanta. It’ll just be a matter of whether they can take advantage and find the back of the net.
- Even though the Rangers don’t have great possession numbers, they’re quite opportunistic. They average 10.5 scoring chances per 60 (via Corsica), which is 3rd highest in the league. They also have a league high 10.7% shooting percentage at even-strength. If the Devils don’t buckle down defensively, they’re going to be in for another long night.
- The Devils will be making some changes on defense tonight as Jon Merrill will come in for Yohann Auvitu, per Mike Morreale. Merrill’s underlying numbers are far from terrible, but he’s only played in five games, so hard to take anything from it. That being said, I don’t agree with taking Auvitu out. He may’ve struggled the last two games, but he’s been one of the Devils best drivers of possession from the blue line. For a team that struggles in its own end, this could be a problem against an opportunistic Rangers team.
- Even though his defensemen haven’t helped him out, Cory Schneider has been struggling. He’s only had a save percentage above .900 once in his last eight starts and that came against Vancouver. Hopefully, tonight marks the beginning of him returning to form.