Rangers: 3 Keys to Beating the Devils in the First Round

Rangers G Igor Shesterkin in net

The New York Rangers have officially landed themselves a first-round matchup against the New Jersey Devils in this year’s postseason. The Devils will have the home-ice advantage during the 7-game series after concluding the regular season with a 52-22-8 record and 112 points. The Rangers finished 3rd in the Metropolitan division with a record of 47-22-13 and 107 points.

Game 1 between the two teams will be sometime this upcoming Tuesday. It will not be an easy matchup for the Rangers, but there are certain keys that will help them upset the Devils.

1. Shesterkin vs Vanacek

Both the Rangers and the Devils have elite goaltending, and their play may single handily determine the outcome of this series. Igor Shesterkin, last year’s Vezina Trophy winner, has played phenomenally over the last stretch of games. Over the last five games, Shesterkin has posted an incredible .943 save percentage and has only allowed an average of 1.8 goals per game. Vance has also performed well for New Jersey, as in his last five starts he has a save percentage of .923% and a goals-against average of 1.8 as well.

Both goaltenders have been essential to the success of each team, as both Shesterkin and Vanacek have stolen games throughout the course of the season. As the Rangers prepare for another deep playoff run, Igor Shesterkin is going to need to continue his stellar play if the team wants to make it out of the first round.

The Devils’ roster consists of multiple star forwards such as Jack Hughes, Timo Meier, and Nico Hischier. With the acquisitions of both Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko for the Rangers, both teams have the ability to score goals on an elite level.

Goaltending is going to be a massive factor in determining who moves on to the second round. In a full 7 game series, I have faith in Shesterkin.

2. Playing well on the road

Throughout the final stretch of the regular season, the Rangers made a solid push to try to catch up to New Jersey and overtake the second seed in the Metropolitan division. While they made it very close, the Rangers, unfortunately, finished the season as the 3 seed. This means that throughout this first-round matchup, the Devils will have the home-ice advantage.

Playing on the road has not been much of a problem for the Rangers this season. After the conclusion of all 82 regular season games, they finished with an away record of 24-9-8, which is actually better than their home record of 23-13-5. In order to defeat the Devils, the Rangers are going to need to continue this trend heading into round one. The team is aware of this as well.

“If we want to win the Stanley Cup, we have to beat anybody anywhere.”

Filip Chytil via Vince Mecogliano on Twitter

3. All four lines contribute

Throughout this season, the Rangers have been one of the more inconsistent teams in the league. There are certain games where the team will score more than five goals, and then the next game they will get shut out.

A large part of this problem comes from an overall inconsistent play from certain lines. For some reason, if the bottom six is playing extremely well, the top six will look invisible out there on the ice. The same concept goes for the opposite way as well.

If the Rangers want to beat New Jersey and make a push for the Stanley Cup, all four lines are going to need to be playing at an elite level. We know that Igor Shesterkin will play well in net, but with the Devils having as much offensive depth as they do, it’s no secret that there are going to be some high-scoring games.

To counter this, the Rangers will need point contributions from all four lines. On paper, the Rangers have incredible depth and should not have a problem scoring multiple goals per game. As long as the top six continue to produce and the kid line performs as well as they did throughout the last postseason, there should be little difficulty moving on to the second round.

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