It’s the final face-off between the Devils and the Rangers, with the Devils fully in tank mode and the Rangers once again looking to gear up for the playoffs. While winning games down the stretch is almost seen as a loss, there is still nothing sweeter than being able to take down an arch rival. It is a daunting task to try and tackle, especially when the Rock will most likely be filled with Ranger fans, but let’s just hope for yet another competitive matchup.
Keys to the game:
Possession and tempo are going to play a huge role as always in this heated contest. The Rangers like to use their speed to try and turn things into a constant race up and down the ice, which will not favor the Devils defensively. Pucks need to be put on net early and often, and generating traffic is as crucial as ever. The young guns have been stepping up lately and that will need to continue if the Devils hope to have any chance in this one, not to mention if Taylor Hall can just do Taylor Hall-type things.
Players to watch:
Kyle Palmieri has been red hot down the stretch, and also has 3 goals and 2 assists in the past 4 games against the Rangers. Palmieri is also making a push to hit his 30 goal mark again, so a big game tonight would really help boost his chances. Adam Henrique is also a guy who has been playing well as of late, now just one goal shy of hitting 20 goals for the season. The real key as mentioned before is going to be the speed in this game, and nobody on the Devils knows speed quite like Miles Wood and Taylor Hall. I expect those two guys to really try and keep the defense on their heels in this one and push the tempo every chance they get.
Michael Grabner is having an absolutely sensational season and he will need to be watched at all times, especially when he is hanging around for a chance at a breakaway. Chris Kreider is a guy who just seems to love playing against the Devils, with five points in the three games so far this season. His physical style of play paired up with his explosive skating makes him a tough matchup for any team in the league, especially the Devils. While the big guns get most of the spotlight, the Devils also can’t sleep on the young depth line of Vesey-Lindberg-Buchnevich. They play with great chemistry and are able to create some chaos around the crease.
All of the prior games have been very hard fought and come down to the wire, with two of the three games needing overtime. Even with the Devils in tank mode it was clear to see through the game against the Flyers that they still show up for the rivalry games, and I think this game is going to be the biggest game left this season for them. With how close they came to holding on last time, and maybe a bit of unreal optimism, I think the Devils scratch and claw their way to a 3-2 victory and salvage some dignity with this season winding down.