8 ET, New Jersey at Rangers, Game 2 (NBC Sports Network)
If the first two games out West are any indication, then this is our only hope for a competitive series. If the first two rounds are any indication, it will be. The Rangers have just been that type of team.
In each of the first three rounds they won the first game in Madison Square Garden. They subsequently dropped Game 2 the first two times, the question is will they again?
The Rangers are playing a style that leads to close games, it leaves games more in the balance just simply for the lack of scoring. If you can only score two or maybe three goals in a game, the other team is never going to be far behind, if at all. That's as big a contributor to their lack of momentum game to game as anything. The scales are so easily tipped when you play as conservatively as the Rangers are.
It's still funny to think about it this way, but the Devils are the offensive team here. They play a more aggressive game. Just look at the work of the forecheck in Game 1 to see how they approach the game now under Peter DeBoer.
Yet they lost Game 1 3-0. They managed to only get 21 shots on Henrik Lundqvist while the Rangers blocked 26 others. It's been one of the most-discussed stories of the playoffs, especially when talking about the Rangers, their shot-blocking ability. As much as the Devils want to downplay it, they still need to find a way to get shots through.
DeBoer is already on it.
"They're a good shot-blocking team. Every team you play has strengths in certain areas," DeBoer said on Tuesday's off day. "And that's one of the Rangers' strengths. One of the strengths of the New Jersey Devils is our penalty kill. It's something you have to deal with.
"Finding lanes, moving the puck quickly, being in the right places. We've got a plan."
Thanks to an openness we don't get from Rangers coach John Tortorella, the plan here seems pretty clear. And, well, probably pretty obvious. If you shoot the puck before the Rangers players have a chance to get in shot-blocking position, you're going to decrease the amount of times it happens.
Do I expect to see a bounceback from the Devils in Game 2? Absolutely. Remember, the goal for any road team is to split the first two games of the series and obviously that can still be met. The challenge is giving Lundqvist a little more to handle than what he saw on Monday night.
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