NEWARK, N.J. (AP)- For the first time since 2012, the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils meet in the playoffs. Anticipation has been growing for hockey fans on the New York and New Jersey sides of the Hudson.
The first-round series between the Rangers and Devils that’s been on the horizon is now a reality. The best-of-seven river rivalry took off on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center. If it is anything like most of their other six postseason matchups, it will be a joy to watch.
Two in the series have gone to a seventh game, with the most memorable being the 1994 Eastern Conference final decided in double overtime on a wraparound goal by New York’s Stephane Matteau.
While the Rangers have a 4-2 record in the series, the Devils won the last one, beating the Rangers in six games in the 2012 conference final on a goal in overtime by Adam Henrique. New Jersey was then denied a fourth Stanley Cup by the Los Angeles Kings.
“At the end of the day, it’s hockey,” Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. “It’s what we do and what we love. Everyone is going to go out there and do their best.”
The teams played four times in the regular season with the Devils winning three in regulation and the Rangers once in overtime. Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said the teams are comparable.
“Who executes the best, who defends the best, and manages the puck best is probably going to win,” he said.
The Devils finished the season with franchise records of 112 points and 52 wins in placing second in the Metropolitan Division. They had 63 points last season. The Rangers finished third in the division with 107 points.