Rangers know the damage a young Devils playoff team can do


If anyone understands the Devils’ plight as they begin their first playoff series since 2018, it’s the Rangers, who are now the NHL’s team-of-the-match in the name of fulfilling their Stanley Cup aspirations. Tasked with squashing the season.

That’s why the Rangers should be able to see the notion that their edge in postseason experience over the Devils means something. The narrative was the same for the Rangers last season, and their conference-final finish was the last word.

Granted, the Rangers, aided by the postseason acquisitions of Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane, know what lies ahead. They have a new understanding of not only where they finished last year, but what it takes to go even further.

That’s unique this season for the Rangers, who won’t be able to rely solely on the 852 playoff games the 20-man lineup has had. They really have to play for it.

It’s not enough to just say you’ve been there before — even though the Rangers have three players who have hoisted the Stanley Cup a combined six times — if you don’t act like it.

“I think people were excited when we got the win, but I don’t think that was the case last year,” captain Jacob Trouba said after Thursday’s regular-season finale. “The feeling was different. I think there’s a little bit more hope in the returning group – and once you’re there, you’ve got to be ready to go.

Want to catch a game? The Rangers schedule can be found here along with links to purchase tickets.

New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) led the team with 99 points during the 2022-23 season.
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“We have talked. All the words have been said. I think we are ready to play. It’s finally here. ”

The devils are created to provoke such adversaries. Between their natural propensity to push the pace and the way they can dominate the open ice, the Devils are perhaps one of the few teams whose skill level rivals the Rangers.

Whether or not the Rangers can play an experienced team game could be a deciding factor in the series.

The regular-season series between the two clubs did not go in the Rangers’ favor. They won in overtime in December and lost the other three games, two in regulation and one in overtime. There were many instances in which the Devils simply looked like the better team.

Patrick Kane (88) was acquired by the Rangers before the trade deadline in anticipation of their 2023 playoff push.
Patrick Kane (88) was acquired by the Rangers before the trade deadline in anticipation of their 2023 playoff push.
NHLI via Getty Images

After sunrise on Tuesday morning in Newark, however, the Devils will be in Rangers territory. New Jersey has skated in just five postseason games in the past decade. It will all be new and exciting for the likes of Jack Hughes, Dawson Mercer, Nathan Bastian and Michael McLeod.

The Rangers will have to be convincing in their role as veterans.

“They present a challenge,” head coach Gerard Gallant said of the Devils, who moved to third in the NHL with 112 points this season after finishing fifth-to-last in 2021-22. “They are a young team, but they are a skilled team and a talented team and they can create a lot.

“Some of their guys made big strides this year like our guys. I think it’s going to be a great series.”

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