In the first meeting between these two playoff bound teams, Martin Brodeur was the difference. He wasn’t called upon often, but he made some great saves when he needed to. The Rangers defense also fell asleep a few too many times this game, as their defensive miscues on goals one and three by the Devils turned out to be the difference in this game.
On a positive note, both Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller looked solid in this game. Kreider looked like the Kreider of old, and Miller looked like he fits in with the Rangers just fine. If you’re going to take a positive from this game, take that.
On to the goals:
Devils 1, Rangers 0
This goal is just a whole big mess all around. First, the Rangers lose the puck along the half boards, and the Devils cycle the puck behind the net. Michael Del Zotto chases David Clarkson behind the net, where Marc Staal is tied up already with Patrick Elias. So with both defensemen behind the net, Adam Henrique just sits wide open in the slot. Marian Gaborik, is the weak side winger and the weak side winger has to cover the high slot. This is a mental gaffe on Gabby’s part and probably why he was sent down to play with Halpern. It also helps that Staal didn’t realize Henrique was there, even though he was nowhere near Elias at the time of the pass.
Devils 2, Rangers 0
This one is just relatively awful luck. Henrik Lundqvist makes the right play to move the puck from behind the net, and MDZ makes the right play to cut over to attempt to move the puck up. Problem is that Clarkson beat him to it, and kicked the puck up to Elias with his skate. Elias hits Stephen Gionta with a pass, and both Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash converge on him. The puck winds up in Nash’s skates, and he just can’t locate it in time. Clarkson, who was on the ice already, challenges Nash while MDZ and McDonagh are busy with Gionta. Clarkson just beats Nash to it and fires one past a surprised Lundqvist.
Devils 3, Rangers 0
This one is all on MDZ. Arron Asham took a penalty that may have prevented a goal, and on the ensuing powerplay, the Devils went to work. After the Rangers won the face off, the Devils gained control, and worked the puck to the point. This is where MDZ failed to cover Clarkson (above).
Once the shot made it through to Hank, the rest was easy for Clarkson, who beat MDZ to the puck. Beating MDZ was easy considering he had a big head start on him. Del Zotto had a brain fart on this one.
Rangers 1, Devils 3
After a neutral zone turnover by the Devils, Brad Richards scoops up the puck and gains the zone. Richards eventually draws the attention of all five Devils, as at that point they were playing the lead based trap I talked about in my game preview, and part of the trap is to collapse around center-ice puck carriers. Once Richards dishes to Chris Kreider, all he needs to do is hit the open spot. Marty probably wants this one back, as that’s a sharp angle shot. Though, let’s also remember that Kreider ripped a great shot on this goal.
The Rangers are 4-5-0 at this point. We’ve been saying that 12 games is the panic point for the Rangers. That’s still three games away. Let’s not over-analyze this until we hit that mark. I trust Suit has a 12 game panic post brewing if we get there.