Devils 2, Rangers 1: Turning up the heat
With a crucial win, and a Hurricanes regulation loss, the Devils are knocking on the door of a division title.
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A few notes on New Jersey’s big win over the New York Rangers:
Checking the boxes
The Rangers were one of the more active teams in the NHL leading up to the trade deadline. The most notable additions they made, of course, were wingers Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko.
While those moves created quite a stir, and had many talking about just how high the ceiling can be for this Rangers team, the reality is the newcomers don’t provide a ton of substance.
What I mean by that is the Rangers were a flawed 5v5 team that – despite their faults – won games on opportunistic finishing and great goaltending. That’s exactly what they remain after their splashy additions.
They didn’t improve defensively, they didn’t improve their play driving ability, and they didn’t improve their overall game at 5v5. They’re the same team.
Although there’s something to be said about leaning into your strengths, I believe you need a more balanced game if you’re going to contend for a Stanley Cup.
At some point you’re going to run into good goaltending, a fantastic penalty kill, and/or go through a spell where you don’t get many calls. When that’s the case, it’s going to be difficult to outscore your problems.
That’s what we saw Thursday night against New Jersey. The Devils, as they so often do, ran train over the Rangers at 5v5. They created plenty of chances while doing a good job of limiting them the other way. And they stayed out of the box.
Since Vitek Vanecek also played well, the Rangers couldn’t rely on their finishing ability to mask all of the holes in their game.
If not for a fluky failed clearing attempt on one of two penalty kills, the Rangers would’ve been blanked entirely.
The Devils are now 3-0-1 against the Rangers on the year and have won the Grade B chance battle by nearly 50. Their more complete, diverse game has really caused problems.
Simply put, the Devils win in more sustainable ways and have more paths to victory on any given night. That’s why they’re the better team and that’s why they’re going to be favored against the Rangers if and when they meet in the playoffs.