NHL Game of the Week: New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils
It’s official. The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils rivalry is back.
After some years of mediocre to below average results from each franchise, they have both emerged as two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Since the first month of the season, the Devils have vastly exceeded expectations and, even with some bumps in the road, have managed a 46-20-8 record to this point and have clinched a playoff spot.
Much of this success can, and should, be attributed to the breakout of former first overall pick Jack Hughes.
Even though he has dealt with injuries throughout much of his career, Hughes has steadily progressed since coming into the NHL in 2019.
However, he has now vaulted himself into superstardom, amassing career highs in goals, assists and points with 40, 46 and 86 respectively.
His 40 goals are good for ninth most in the entire league and while Connor McDavid has all but locked up the Hart Trophy, Hughes will certainly receive some recognition as one of the runners-up.
As many other playoff-bound teams did, New Jersey made a massive splash at the trade deadline to fill their hole at right wing, acquiring Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks for a slew of players and picks.
Unfortunately for the Devils, Meier has struggled since landing in Newark, totaling just four goals and two assists for six points in 13 games.
He isn’t the only one who has struggled however, as the whole team has been fairly inconsistent recently.
In the month of March, New Jersey is 7-5-3 and 2-3-1 in its last six contests, which has allowed the New York Rangers to put themselves in position to tie their point total with a win this week.
While the Devils might’ve acquired the biggest fish on the trade market, New York made the most noise.
Not only did they add all-star winger Vladimir Tarasenko, but also managed to bring in arguably the greatest American-born player in the history of the sport with three time Stanley Cup champion and former Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane.
Similar to what New Jersey has been experiencing recently, the Rangers had a bit of a slump after the All-Star break.
All the trade discussions kept players out of the lineup, goalie Igor Shesterkin struggled the most he had all season and they even had to play multiple games with just 11 forwards and five defenseman.
Now, everyone is healthy and the new guys seem to be more comfortable and adjusted to their new teammates and system.
Unlike the Devils, the Rangers have dominated this month, going 10-3-1 including two big wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins and a split with the Carolina Hurricanes in back-to-back matchups.
This team is getting hot at the right time and while they may not pass the Hurricanes for that top seed in the Metropolitan Division, they could get home ice advantage over the Devils in the first round.
Regardless of the result, this final regular season game between these division rivals should produce fireworks and serve as a potential preview of what’s to come in the wild card round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Jakob Schnur is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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Second-Year / Broadcast Journalism