The New York Rangers won games 1 and 2 in New Jersey. The New Jersey Devils won games 3 and 4 in New York. Now the series is a best of three, with teams switching arenas for the final three games. Every game has been different as the teams seem to find something to feed off of on the road. The Rangers were outplaying the Devils in New Jersey, outscoring them by a combined 10-2. The Devils substituted goaltender Vitek Vanacek for youngster Akira Schmid and things changed for the better. The offense has not been there for the Rangers since Schmid took the net but will the lack of offense continue? Or will the Rangers find their offense again in time to close out the series with two wins in three games?
The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers series are now in a best of three.
The series has told us so far that the road team is playing better. Will that switch for game 5 in New Jersey? Both teams have things to figure out and they have little time to do so. Three games is all that remains in this exciting playoff series that has been everything we expected and more.
Can the New Jersey Devils crack the Rangers penalty kill?
The New Jersey Devils have a talented young group that is capable of scoring big goals. Forward Jack Hughes is coming on, Ondrej Palat has been through this before, and captain Nico Hischier has taken his game play to another level. Do the Devils have what it takes on special teams as the New York Rangers have one of the best penalty kill units in the NHL postseason, operating at a 84.6% kill rate. While they are not perfect, New York has some aggressive penalty killers that make it difficult for the opposition to set up and get things organized. The pressure and aggression has them as one of the best in the playoffs. Do the New Jersey Devils have enough to crack that smothering defense on the penalty kill?
Devils and Rangers tops in league in shots against
The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers have not set the playoffs on fire as far as offense goes. There is a reason for that as they are both stingy in the defensive end and in the neutral zone. Both teams do not give up a lot of chances or shots in the playoffs. The New York Rangers are giving up a mediocre 25.8 shots per game, while the New Jersey Devils are at an even 28 shots against per game. The goaltenders for each team have been good, while the defenses have given up little to no great scoring chances. In order to win the series, one of these teams will have to make adjustments to poke a hole in the opposition’s defense. Will they figure it out before it is too late?
New York Rangers stars struggling
Speaking of figuring it out, the New York Rangers have issues in the offensive zone, primarily putting pucks in the net. Only three players (Adam Fox, Chris Kreider, and Patrick Kane) seem to have found their offensive game. Forwards Artemi Panarin (2 points in 4 games), Mika Zibanejad (2 points in 4 games), and Vladimir Tarasenko (2 goals in 4 games) have yet to find their game. In order for the Rangers to move on to the second round, these three players have to find their touch around the net and beat Schmid, who has looked untouchable in these playoffs. The Rangers have six players without a single point.
Can the New York Rangers solve Schmid?
New Jersey Devils goaltender Schmid has been red hot since taking the crease from Vanacek in game 3. The Rangers have not been able to get anything by him, which is something to be said about Schmid since the Rangers scored 10 goals in the first two games. Schmid has completely shut down the Rangers offense with his timely saves. He is the reason the Devils were able to tie the series at 2 games a piece. His position and timing between the pipes has thrown off the Rangers creativity inside the offensive zone. Schmid could be the reason the Devils move on to round 2 if the rangers continue to struggle. IN the 2023 playoffs, Schmid has a record of 2-0 with a GAA of 0.91 and a save percentage of .966. In 132 minutes of game play, he has 57 saves and two goals against.
Whoever wins game 5 wins the series?
Although things could change, it appears that the winner of game 5 will go on to win the series. Or will they? With the series tied at 2, the game 5 winner has taken the series 78.8% of the time. In the 260 playoff series, the game 5 winner has taken the series 206 times. No doubt, this game 5 is important and, as the record shows, could be good for moving on to round 2.
New York Rangers New Jersey Devils projected lineups
New Jersey Devils
Timo Meier-Nico Hischier-Jesper Bratt
Erik Haula-Jack Hughes-Ondrej Palat
Tomas tatar-Michael McLeod- Dawson Mercer
Jesper Boqvist-Curtis Lazar-Nathan Bastian
Jonas Siegenthaler-Dougie Hamilton
Ryan Graves-John Marino
Kevin Bahl-Damon Severson
Akira Schmid-Vitek Vanacek
Injuries-Jonathan Bernier (hip)
New York Rangers
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Patrick Kane
Artemi Panarin-Vincent Trocheck-Vladimir Tarasenko
Alexis Lafreniere-Filip Chytil- Kappo Kakko
Jimmy Vesey-Barclay Goodrow-Tyler Motte
Ryan LIndgren-Adam Fox
K’Andre MIller-Jacob Trouba
Niko MIkkola-Braden Schneider
Igor Shesterkin-Jaroslav Halak
lineups via nhl.com
Where to watch: MSGSN, ESPN2