Monday, October 16, 2006

Tonight's Games (Oct 16)

New Jersey at NY Rangers – 7 pm
Carolina at Tampa Bay – 7 pm
Nashville at NY Islanders – 7:30 pm
Chicago at Colorado – 9 pm
Edmonton at Vancouver – 10 pm
Detroit at Los Angeles – 10:30 pm


New Jersey at NY Rangers

It’s usually a good one when these two teams meet. Last year the Rangers took 3 of 4 regular season meetings at MSG but the Devils outscored New York 7-2 in their two playoff meetings in New York to complete the sweep.

The Rangers come into this one on a three-game losing streak, allowing 17 goals in those games to Philadelphia (4), Pittsburgh (6) and Buffalo (7). They’re lead by Jagr who already has 10 points despite rumours that his shoulder may not yet be 100%. Brendan Shanahan has adapted well to his new surroundings after 9 seasons in Detroit, notching six goals thus far. The Rangers often employ five forwards on the Powerplay which has only scored 6 PPG. This could be a recipe for disaster against the opportunistic Devils. As well their PK unit has killed off just 75.7% - they will have to do much better or Gomez, Elias and Gionta will have a big night.

New Jersey is off to a 3-1 start, carried largely by their special teams – 25% on the PP and 90% on the PK. Early in the season you often see more penalties as teams so needless to say special teams are critical. The EGG line has combined for 16 points and the Devils have also got three goals out of sophomore Zach Parise who had all of 14 last year. Gionta, like Cheechoo is showing that last year wasn’t a fluke and that he’ll be a force offensively this year.

The formula for the Devils hasn’t changed much over the years – play strong team D, let Marty come up big and rely on a strong core to come through offensively. Everyone knows their roles and they’re committed to the system. So far I haven’t seen that same dedication or camaraderie from the Rangers. They don’t have a great supporting cast and Lundqvist still has a lot to prove after an outstanding rookie season.

Pick: New Jersey

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