A little over a month ago, the idea of the Rangers vying with the Devils for second place in the D.C. Division midway through the season could have been classed as wishful thinking.
That’s because, just 33 days earlier, the Devils led the entire NHL and were 14 points ahead of the Rangers, who were fifth in the division at the time. Well, that idea – through a combination of a complete turnaround of the guards in their team’s game and the Devils’ retreat – is now a reality.
Slate wins over the Devils on Saturday Afternoon at the Prudential Center It would allow the Rangers to leapfrog their cross-Hudson rivals into second place behind the Hurricanes. Both the Rangers and Devils have seen firsthand how quickly things can turn upside down in this league, which would lead to a spirited showdown in a division where every game in the future has playoff implications.
However, the Rangers do not let go of the moment become very large.
“Everyone is aware of that, in terms of ranking [are]said Captain Jacob Trueba after practice Friday afternoon at the Complexe Sportif Bell in Montreal. “It’s one of 82, at the same time, as far as a big division match. Guys realize, but I don’t think it’s a crazy motivational point. It is what it is.”
Focusing on their game has been the Rangers mantra over their last 14 games, as they went 11-2-1. It should have been. Neither team was paving the way for them to get back on track, which became abundantly clear after a smashing 5-2 loss to the Blackhawks on December 3rd.
“It wasn’t a great start to the season, and we played really well,” said coach Gerard Gallant. “I thought, obviously, the last month has been good for us and we just have to keep playing well. We’re playing more as a team, we’re playing more than 200 feet as a team and that’s why we’re having success.”
The Devils started the season like they had shot them by winning 19 of their first 23 games. They’ve won 13 straight goals at one point, all while averaging nearly four goals per game. The NHL has been tipped off that the Devils have finally arrived after years of rebuilding, underachieving and missing the playoffs in nine of the past 10 seasons.
After going 3-9-1 since December 9, the Devils have allowed the rest of the division and league to catch up.
“I think we know what they’re about, how they play, they obviously played really good hockey this year,” said Trueba. “Pace and the offensive ability to take advantage of transitions and convert is their strong point. I think we all know that. It will be a good match.”
No matter what the demons are, the Rangers can’t Take the personnel At the other end of the ice gently. Specifically, Jack Hughes, who would go on to hit a streak of four straight games in the match. The 21-year-old Hughes, who was picked up by the Devils for the first time in 2019 before the Rangers took Kapo Kaku at second, has scored in all but four of New Jersey’s past 12 games (10 goals, three assists).
“Watch it,” Gallant said of what the Rangers should do against Hughes. “Keep him off the puck. He’s having a great year. He’s a great young player – but he’s not alone. They’ve got a lot of good young players on this hockey team. We just have to play our game. I’m worried about the way we play and things will take care of themselves.” .