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Rangers aiming for consistency against the Devils; JT Miller making a difference

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers salute the crowd 3-2

The Rangers are looking to Salute the Crowd once again as they are set to take on the New Jersey Devils tonight at MSG. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After clinching the Metropolitan Division title on Thursday, the Rangers (49-21-7) will be looking for their third straight win when they take on the New Jersey Devils (32- 33-13) for the start of a two game homestand, with the season coming to an end very soon.

This is the second of four meetings between these two rivals, with New York wining in both games. They haven’t played since December, but will meet twice in the next four days. The Rangers won in overtime by a final score of 4-3 back on October 21st, and a 3-1 win on December 27th at Madison Square Garden. Derek Stepan scored all three goals in that game, with Martin St. Louis tallying two assists. Henrik Lundqvist allowed one goal on 20 shots to earn the win.

The Devils are coming off of 3-2 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens last night, bringing in a potential fatigue factor into tonight’s game against New York. Keith Kincaid started for New Jersey, stopping 31 out of 33 shots. That means that Cory Schneider will be making his 66th start of the season at the Garden.

Schneider is quietly having a fantastic season in net for the Devils in his first full season as the starting goalie. His record doesn’t show it, but that’s mostly due to a lackluster lineup in front of it. Schneider is 26-28-9 with a 2.20 GAA and a .929 save percentage. However, he is winless in his last five starts, with just two wins in his last 10 starts. Schneider will be tough to score on any given night, and he continues to be one of the lone bright spots on New Jersey’s team.

The Devils lineup does not pack a lot of punch, with just two players eclipsing the 40 point mark this season. Surprisingly, one of their best players has been Scott Gomez, the 35 year old veteran who rejoined the team that drafted him. In 54 games, Gomez has amassed 31 points (7-24-31), still possessing his passing skills and ability to skate through the neutral zone. Gomez is certainly one of the players on the Devils to watch.

When New Jersey signed Mike Cammalleri as a free agent, they were hoping to address the problem of goal scoring. When healthy, Cammalleri has done just that, leading the devils with 27 goals, and second in points (27-13-40). Cammalleri has a wicked wrist shot, and can be deceptively fast.

After their 3-2 win in Minnesota on Thursday, the Rangers clinched their second Metropolitan Division title in the last four years, currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference with 105 points. Prior to that, New York had lost three of four games, and their trying to establish some final success and consistency before they head into the postseason.

Henrik Lundqvist is set to make his third consecutive start in net for the Rangers, getting better with each start he makes. He looked very sharp in Minnesota, making a lot of key saves to keep the Rangers in the game. This is Lundqvist’s first game back at MSG since the injury, so the atmosphere and buzz in MSG may help him elevate his game to the next level. Lundqvist is currently 27-12-3 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA, with two wins over New Jersey this season.

henrik lundqvist 4-2

Henrik Lundqvist was strong in net for the Rangers against the Minnesota, and he will be making his third consecutive start tonight, and his first at MSG since his injury. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

JT Miller scored the game winner against Minnesota, deflecting a Ryan McDonagh shot-pass for his 10th goal of the season. Even though St. Louis is healthy now, Vigneault opted to keep the “All-American” line together, with the trio of Stepan, Kreider, and Miller performing very well together. Miller has seven points (3-4-7) in his last eight games, and he is starting to become a factor in every game that he plays in.

On that line, Chris Kreider has filled out the left wing position, setting career highs in all point categories this season. Kreider is sixth on the team in scoring with 43 points (21-22-43), and is heating up lately, with four goals and three assists in his last seven games. Playing with Derek Stepan, who has two goals and five assists in the last seven games, they have built a lot of chemistry and understand of each other’s play. Kreider is developing into a tremendous power forward, and his confidence is sky high right now.

Derick Brassard continues to be one of the Rangers best players, making an impact in every game that he plays in. Brassard has set career high in points and assists, sitting at 58 points (17-41-58) for this campaign. He also is coming into tonight’s game with a three game point streak (2-2-4), and I think he will have a solid game again.

Derick Brassard 10-27

Derick Brassard has been tremendous lately, recording four points in his last three games. He is just two points away from reaching the 60 point mark for the first time in his career. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

It doesn’t appear that there will be any lineup changes, which means that James Sheppard will likely be a healthy scratch, with Tanner Glass staying on the fourth line.

EXPECTED LINES

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-JT Miller

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Martin St. Louis

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Matt Hunwick

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on April 4, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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