The New York Rangers are back in action tonight at Madison Square Garden for this season’s first installment of the Battle of the Hudson. The New Jersey Devils come into the game after an impressive opening series against the Boston Bruins. The Devils lost their opener in a shootout and then won their second game in OT on a game-winner from rookie Yegor Sharangovich. New Jersey should have won both games but excellent goaltending by Tuukka Rask won game one for Boston. The Rangers come in after an up and down opening series against the Islanders. After getting dominated on opening night, Rangers Coach David Quinn made changes to every line except the top line. He benched Tony DeAngelo and the team got the message loud and clear. Flipping the script and shutting out the Isles 5-0 Saturday night.
The Match Up
The Rangers and Devils both come into the game well rested with both last playing on Saturday. The two teams split the season series last year 2-2. They were action-packed games with an average of 7.5 goals scored per game. The Rangers enter the game 1-1-0 on the season while the Devils are 1-0-1. Here are some pregame thoughts from Quinn about what he expects to see from his team following Saturday’s performance.
Coach Quinn: “We need to have consistent effort every night, consistent intentions, and when you do that, you put yourself in much better situations to win hockey games.” pic.twitter.com/gpgvqC8KWv— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 18, 2021
Devils Game Notes
Following an impressive opening series against the division favorite Boston Bruins, the Devils look to bring that momentum into MSG tonight. Last year’s number one overall pick Jack Hughes is off to a hot start with three assists in the first two games. Hughes is also the Devils’ leader in ice time played by a forward. He is averaging 22:14 minutes of ice time, a huge jump from last year’s average of 15:52. The Devils will once again play without the 2017 number one overall pick Nico Hischier. Hischier injured himself preparing for the season in December. He has yet to take the ice with the Devils this season. The probable goaltender for the Devils tonight will be Mackenzie Blackwood. Blackwood has looked excellent in the first two games this year and is sporting a 1.38 GAA along with a save percentage of .954. The young 24-year-old goalie was impressive in his first year last year for the Devils. Going 22-14-8 on the shortened season while appearing in 47 games and starting 43 of them.
Rangers Game Notes
Coach Quinn has already said he is going with the same lineup as Saturday. This means defenseman Tony DeAngelo will be back in the press box. DeAngelo did skate with the regular team yesterday after being demoted to the taxi squad over the weekend. Devils fans will be happy to see DeAngelo sitting. Last year in four games he had five goals and two assists. The New Jersey native scored his first career hat trick against them in a 6-3 Rangers win last January. Quinn did say the punishment was over but he wants to stick with the same lineup that clicked Saturday night. This means Alexandar Georgiev will be back in the net for the Rangers. The 24-year-old will look to build off of his 23 save shutout against the Islanders. In three career games against the Devils, Georgiev is 2-1 with a 2.03 GAA. With DeAngelo sitting, Quinn is sticking with Brendan Smith following a very strong performance last game from him. Here are some thoughts from Quinn on Smith’s play.
Coach Quinn on Brendan Smith’s impact on a young team, shifting Kakko to the Chytil line, K’Andre’s progression and more. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/PqjOJBVcbD— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 19, 2021
The Rangers practiced in their new third helmets yesterday which brought some speculation they could debut the new Liberty 3rd jerseys tonight. The original rumor was that they would not wear them until they played Pittsburgh on February 1st which is the Rangers’ first nationally televised game on NBC Sports. We will see if they do in fact make their debut tonight and add another piece of excitement to round one of this years Battle of the Hudson rivalry.