Rangers at Devils


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The third installment of the Battle of Hudson takes place in Newark at 5 PM. Kind of an odd start time due to the annoying outdoor game being played between the Flyers and Penguins. How many more times do the same teams have to participate? But yeah. I’ll probably watch because it’s an intense rivalry between Pennsylvania rivals.

While that game is at 8 PM in primetime because when else would it be on NBC, that leaves the Rangers and Devils to start earlier than usual on a Saturday afternoon. Ditto for the Islanders who visit the Blue Jackets at the same time. How nice. So much for channel flipping.

The game is the third of I believe four between New Jersey and New York. The Devils are not far out of the wildcard. But consecutive losses to the Islanders and Senators pretty much killed their hopes. Something Hasan went off on due to just an awful decision by John Hynes to start backup Keith Kinkaid over Cory Schneider in a must have rematch last Sunday in Brooklyn. A disaster.

The Rangers find themselves locked in a tight battle with Columbus for third in the Metro. They’re a point behind. The Pens remain in second a few points out of first trailing the Caps. The issue is whoever finishes third will likely have to draw the defending champs in the first round due to the current format.

Whoever gets the first wildcard would cross over and play the Atlantic winner. I have no clue who that will be anymore. Montreal is continuing to struggle. If not for a shootout win at MSG, they’d be winless in three under Claude Julien. God almighty. Ottawa sits just two points back with games at hand. The Leafs and Bruins are right there. Then the Panthers are too. Who knows what could happen between now and the first week of April.

The trade deadline is March 1 on Wednesday. The Rangers have interest in Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith. I don’t want them to overpay for Shattenkirk as a rental like they did Keith Yandle, who at least had another year left on his deal which the Coyotes picked up half the tab on. As for Smith, I don’t know what people see in him. He hasn’t been healthy playing in only 33 games. But I guess they believe he’d be an upgrade over Dan Girardi or Marc Staal which is true. It wouldn’t cost much. I would guess a second round pick would do the trick.

As for tonight, no Kevin Klein again as he’s out for the weekend including tomorrow’s game versus Columbus due to back spasms. So the Adam Clendening contingent gets their wish. No Pavel Buchnevich either after Brandon Pirri had a good game the other night assisting on J.T. Miller’s goal which came at the end of a power play. He also fit in with Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast on the fourth line.

Henrik Lundqvist gets the day off. Antti Raanta starts against Cory Schneider. Lundqvist isn’t needed to play against the Devils. Especially with a quality backup in Raanta capable of performing. No disrespect there either. But that’s just how it goes. For years, when our team sucked, all they saw were backups. Now, the Devils are going through that phase.

They’re not a pushover. They still boast capable players in Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac, Andy Greene, Damon Severson and recently scratched Mike Cammalleri. Plus youngster Miles Wood, who has great speed but is still looking for consistency. Unfortunately, bright rookie Pavel Zacha is out with a concussion.

Anyway, the game is about to start. I’ll probably head home and watch. Happy Puck Day!

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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