The New Jersey Devils had to of known that advancing past the Eastern Conference Finals wasn’t going to be easy. Surely they already knew that beating the hated New York Rangers was not going to be a stroll through Central Park.
Well, if they didn’t before, they surely do now. The Rangers and Henrik Ludqvist took game 1 of the East Final, 3-0 despite spending the majority of the game in their own end. Before being blanked, the Devils were averaging three goals a game and hadn’t been shutout since early in the opening round of the playoffs.
New York used third period goals by Dan Girardi, Chris Kreider and Artem Anisimov to take the pressure of themselves and hold the New Jersey attack at bay.
The Devils had a tremendous first 40-minutes of hockey but failed to scored simply because they had a tough time getting pucks to the net. The Rangers defense didn’t give New Jersey an inch of space, blocking more shots (26) then Lundqvist actually saved (21).
New York has been a forced when it comes to blocking shots in the playoffs and it was paramount to the win Monday night.
”They were blocking a lot of shots, but we know that’s the way they play,” Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. ”We have to find the lanes. We’ll see what we didn’t do right tomorrow morning and we’ll be better next game.”
Although the Devils had the better of the puck possession, they were never able to get that second and third chance on rebounds that it will take to beat Lundqvist, who earned his fifth career playoff shutout in the win.
It didn’t help that the Devils went 0 for 4 with the man advantage while continuing to take poorly times penalties themselves including a Steve Bernier boarding call on Giradi that resulted in the Rangers second and most deflating goal of the game.
Overall, I thought the Devils came ready to play. They will need to make adjustments to combat the tight Rangers defense. If they can score early in game 2 I feel like they will be in control of the game and perhaps the rest of the series. They have to find a way to even the series heading back to the Prudential Center.
It was a textbook New York Rangers win… hang around long enough to strike without warning then squeeze the life out of their opponent until time runs out on the game clock. It reminds me of a snake stalking, killing and eating it’s prey.
If the Devils don’t want to become the poor lifeless field mouse than they must quickly figure out how to outsmart the snake or this could be a boringly short series.
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