Adam HenryThe overtime goal in Game 6 that sent the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals was notable. The same goes for the atmosphere in the buildings, the Prudential Center, and Madison Square Garden.
But in terms of detail, this is where the Rangers striker gets fuzzy. The last time the Rangers and Devils met in the Stanley Cup playoffs was two weeks after his 21st birthday. He has never played in a regular NHL game.
“I was coming out of college and that was a whirlwind for me, so it’s kind of hard to look back and appreciate the appeal of that rivalry back then,” Kreider said. “It’s a great rivalry and it would make for good hockey, competitive hockey, but it’s hard for me to look back and really know some things because I was a rookie rookie.
[RELATED: Complete Devils vs. Rangers series coverage]
Kreider is now a savvy veteran who knows exactly what to expect when the Rangers and Devils kick off the highly anticipated Eastern Conference Game 1 first-round series with Game 1 at the Prudential Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. HE; TBS, SN360, TVAS2, MSG2, MSGSN2, MSGSN) .
As Kreider points out, this episode of “The Battle of the Hudson” will be different from the previous six (1992, 1994, 1997, 2006, 2008, 2012).
“I feel queasy saying that, but the game has changed,” Kreider said.
In the 2012 series, the Rangers and Devils averaged 4.83 goals per game, which was tied for that year’s NHL playoff average of 4.84.
The Devils have scored 3.52 goals per game this season, which ranks fifth in the NHL. The Rangers finished in 12th place with a 3.33 score. The NHL average was 6.36. The playoff average last season was 6.31.
The biggest difference in the 11-year-old is noticeable in these two teams: speed.
“It’s going to be a quick series,” Kreider said. “They skate well. We skate well.”
Video: Devils vs Rangers Hudson River Rivalry Preview
The Devils’ speed would be the Rangers’ biggest challenge, as it did in all four of their regular season games, with New Jersey winning three.
“They like to pick up their speed in the neutral zone, so the important thing is to slow them down,” said the Rangers defender. Ryan Lindgren He said. ” do not leave [Jack] Hughes And [Jesper] Pratt Carry the disc across no man’s land, increase your speed and play rush. Obviously this will happen, they are good players, but you have to slow them down and beat them when you can.
“On the other hand, we have to make sure we don’t splash pucks, that we’re smart with the puck and that we don’t overclock.”
Protecting the Rangers’ skills, especially when used after generating speed from the rush, is the biggest challenge in NJ’s game plan.
“They don’t need as many shots as other teams,” said Devils coach Lindy Ruff. “I think they have real shooters when you look at them [Mika] zipanejadAnd [Artemi] PanarineAnd [Vladimir] TarasenkoAnd [Patrick] Ken. Their running game is dangerous. We must make sure that we are diligent in our spontaneous decisions. We have to make sure that we follow aggressively and that we take the time and the ice, and that development opportunities are kept to a minimum. »
Demons must take care of him Igor Shesterkinwho won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer last season and started the series by starting his best season with 12 wins, a 1.98 goals-against average and 0.934 goals-against in his last 16 games.
“I feel good,” Chesterkin said.
If there’s a defining advantage for the Rangers in this series, it’s in Shesterkin’s sights for his award-winning pedigree, long-term performance and playoff experience, having gone 10-9 with a 2.59 GAA and 0.929 save percentage in the playoffs last year.
Demons guardian Vitek Vanishk He had a solid season with 33 wins, a 2.45 GAA and a 0.911 save percentage in 52 games (48 starts). But he did play in three NHL playoff games, winning one and posting a 4.25 GAA and a 0.855 save percentage.
“We know he’s got his game in place very well,” said Ruve. “If you look at the first chance, I think the most important thing is to try to get a second chance through scrambling, through rebounds, because when he’s on his game, often his first shot doesn’t win.”
Experience can be a factor, and it’s definitely on the Rangers’ side with 24 active roster players accounting for a total of 866 NHL playoff appearances against the Devils’ 25 totaling 479, including Ondrej Tile represent 138.
For Devils, Jack Hughes, Dawson MercerAnd Igor SharangovichAnd Michael McLeodAnd Jasper BukvistAnd Kevin Bahl And Luke Hughes Never played an NHL playoff game. Play naughty. Damon Severson four. Nico Hasher And Miles Wood We have five.
Every Rangers player slated to play in this series has played at least 16 playoff games.
“Obviously a lot of the guys haven’t been in a game, so I think the advantage goes to them a little bit at first, because their guys went through it and they were there,” Ruff said. But most of us are a bunch of rebels…rebel youth ready to go. »
But Rangers doesn’t know he brings a lot of experience with him. They were the inexperienced team that entered the first round last season against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were loaded with veterans and Stanley Cup championship rings.
New York beat Pittsburgh in seven games.
“What did you say last year, remember?” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Pittsburgh was more experienced. It doesn’t mean anything. I really believe in it. He’s the one who’s ready to play in the next two weeks. »