It’s been a while since we did these but it’s time to start jumping back into the preview game!!
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (5-7-5) at the New York Rangers (9-8-0)
The Last Meeting: These two teams last met on October 19th. Both teams weren’t playing very good hockey at the time. The Devils had a zero in the win column while the Rangers only had a 1 in the win column. Devils fans were treated to a fantastic 4-0 shutout win over their rival. If you’re going to struggle at winning like NJ did early, all seems ok when you hand your rival a loss!!
Going Into Tonight’s Game: The Rangers are on a little bit of a roll. They’ve won 7 of their last 9 games and had limited the opposition to 2 goals or less before they played the Panthers on Sunday. The Devils are coming off a decent weekend of hockey that ended with a 5-0 shutout of the Nashville Predators. Marty Brodeur has been pretty hot in his last couple of starts and much to the liking of the Garden faithful, will get the start tonight for NJ.
Defensively Tonight: Defense will be key in this game because the Rangers seem to have it figured out offensively at the moment. They’ve scored 13 goals in their last 3 games which included a 5-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Carl Haglin will certainly be a player to watch in this game. He’s only appeared in 7 games this season but has 4 goals and 4 assists in those 7 games. Brad Richards seems to be a different Brad Richards this season and leads the team in goals, assists and points. Stepan, Callahan and McDonagh are other players NJ will need to worry about as well.
Offensively Tonight: The Devils are coming off a 5-0 stomping of the Nashville Predators that saw 5 different Devils find the back of the net. When you get that type of production, any team, any defense will struggle against you. Most importantly, Travis Zajac was moved onto a line with Zubrus and Jagr Sunday night that paid off in Zajac finding a goal and hopefully some momentum. Recently, the Rangers defense has been decent at keeping pucks out of their net so the Devils are going to need to work and spread the puck around. Hopefully Zidlicky can repeat his performance on Sunday night and help the Devils keep climbing in the standings.
Injury report: Elias (upper body), Ryane Clowe (head) and Bryce Salvador (foot) are on injured reserve for the Devils. Rookie defenseman Jon Merrill (face) has not played since his NHL debut Nov. 3 after crashing into the boards awkwardly. Stephen Gionta (sore foot) is day-to-day. … Rangers forward Rick Nash (head) has been skating on his own and taking shots, but will miss his 15th straight game. He has not played since Oct. 8 and there is no timetable for his return. Forwards Dominic Moore (oblique) and Taylor Pyatt (concussion) are out.