The New Jersey Devils have come back to tie the series with the New York Rangers at two games apiece. New York started these playoffs with two straight wins on the road, and now the Devils have done the same thing.
Now, we are at a best-of-three in the opening round, and it is anybody’s guess who has the advantage. Devils goaltender Akira Schmid has come into a tough spot and gotten this series back to even with his amazing play. Can he continue this with the pressure getting more intense?
Game 5 is in New Jersey, Game 6 in New York, and then New Jersey has Game 7, if necessary. The Devils earned the two wins in New York as they simply outplayed the Rangers in both games. What is to come in the next game?
The New Jersey Devils have confidence after two wins in New York.
Replacing Vanecek with Schmid was the right move
The Devils looked flat in the first two Stanley Cup playoff games in New Jersey. Nothing went right and the team struggled. Schmid was put in between the pipes to rescue the Devils and place confidence in the team that was the second seed in the Metropolitan Division.
In the last two games, Schmid is 2-0 with a GAA of 0.91 and a save percentage of .966. Not bad for a 22-year-old rookie goaltender thrown into a tough situation. Schmid continues to shine as the games get tougher and closer in score.
The team has a new vibe since Schmid took the net and looks full of confidence. The play of the team is better overall and they are not making the same mistakes they did in Games 1 and 2. Schmid looks to continue his winning ways in Game 5, Thursday night in New Jersey.
Hughes delivers on the big stage
Devils center Jack Hughes did not play his best in Games 1 and 2, but he was not the only one. He did not look himself and struggled with simple plays in the offensive zone.
When New Jersey hit Madison Square Garden, something changed in Hughes. He has become one of the best players on the ice and is leading the team offensively. His breakaway goal in Game 4 opened the offense up for the New Jersey Devils and they finished strong, getting the 3-1 win.
He is the leader of the offense and is now contributing like he did in the regular season when he had 99 points. After a slow start in New Jersey, he now has three goals in four games in the playoffs.
If the New Jersey Devils are going to advance to round two, Hughes is going to be one of the main reasons why.
Rangers top line struggles in Game 4
The top line of the New York Rangers struggled in Monday’s 3-1 loss against New Jersey. The Rangers did get a goal from Vincent Trocheck, which was assisted by Patrick Kane and Chris Kreider. However, when the top line was together, it looked out of place.
They turned over the puck, they did not have many scoring chances, and they did not have much room in the offensive zone. Credit to the New Jersey Devils for changing their strategy and not giving room to the Rangers forwards.
However, the Rangers’ top line has experience and is extremely talented, so they need to adjust to create offense for New York. They are the top line for a reason and this is the playoffs. The Rangers need more than two points from their top line to get past New Jersey.