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Rangers - Devils Series Outlook

Rangers - Devils Series Outlook

Rangers - Devils Series Outlook
By Judd Hall

No. 4 New Jersey Devils vs. No. 5 New York Rangers

Series Price: New Jersey -105, New York -125

Series Format: New Jersey, 2-2-1-1-1

Skinny: If there was ever going to be a series that I want to see in the playoffs every year, it would be this matchup. How could anyone pass up a chance to watch the “Turnpike Series?”

This series could have started at Madison Square Garden, but the Blueshirts dropped two straight shoot outs to lose their grip on home ice. The Rangers were slow to get warmed up at the onset of the season, playing near .500 well into November. Then New York just skated above average leading into the New Year.

One thing we can’t accuse the Rangers of not doing is taking too few shots in a given game…they were third in the NHL by taking 31.5 shots on goal for the season. Of course, you need to put those shots into the back of the net eventually and they never did that consistently as evidenced by scoring 205 goals in the 2007-2008 season.

There is only two other playoff teams worse that the Blueshirts at putting the biscuit in the basket and they’re facing one of them in the Devils. New Jersey has scored 198 times this year, tied with Anaheim for the most anemic offense in the postseason.

Goaltending right now is pretty level between the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist (37-24-10, 2.23 GAA) and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur (44-27-6, 2.17) in terms of quality of play.

Defensively, both the Rangers (190) and Devils (193) are very similar ranking fourth and fifth in the league respectively in goals allowed. However, I’m going to give New York the edge on this count because of guys like Paul Mara, Marc Staal and Michal Rozsival. New Jersey, on the other hand, still doesn’t have a blue line that strikes fear into the hearts of its opponents.

Gambling Notes: The head-to-head matchup was decidedly one-sided in favor of New York, who went 7-0-1 for the year. Bettors had good paydays with the ‘under’ going 5-2-1 during the season, too.

The Rangers have gone 2-1-2 in their last five road matches this season, while the Devils are 3-2-1 at the Prudential Center. You may want to look at playing the ‘under’ for the better part of this series as both clubs combined to see it go 10-7-3 recently.

Outlook: This is a pretty even matchup in almost every aspect, except for offense. The Rangers do have playoff tested guys like Chris Drury and Scott Gomez because they know how to win at this stage of the year. And New Jersey will miss Gomez’s skills because Brian Gionta just isn’t on the same level.

Will all of the matches be hard fought in this first round showdown? Yes.

Will they all be close? Yes.

Will the Devils win it? No.

I’m taking the Blueshirts to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in five games.

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