Game 79: When actual predictions come true

Rangers 2 Devils 4

So, I was on my FB messenger earlier during the second period with my Devils buddy. We were rousing each other on who would win the final meeting of the season. He said 4-2 Rangers. My response:

“Not tonight. The New Jersey Devils prevail 5-2.”

Okay. Maybe I was off by a goal. But at least I had the right side. In a rare emotionally charged game between the old Hudson rivals playing for pride, it was the Devils who prevailed by a score of 4-2 in Newark. They salvaged the final meeting to avoid losing all four games.

Not that it means much. It doesn’t. But even though I skipped the first half, I got down just in time to see Filip Chytil tie it up. Once again, the Rangers rallied from a 2-0 deficit against their blood rivals. However, they couldn’t complete the comeback for Henrik Lundqvist, who must feel like he’s eternally jinxed. Every time he starts, he loses. Even when he plays well.

It can’t be easy for the Rangers franchise leader in essentially every goalie category to lose regularly. Sure. It started last year. But now, he’s barely playing with David Quinn giving rookie Alexandar Georgiev a good look to see what they’ve got. Georgiev has played very well over the final part of the season. He will make the decision on Igor Shestyorkin tough next training camp.

As for Lundqvist, following a brutal goal allowed to Devils forward Miles Wood, he turned in a good performance. He faced 40 shots with the fresher Devils peppering him throughout. It isn’t surprising considering the Rangers sorta played yesterday in that easy 3-0 shutout victory of the lifeless Flyers. New Jersey had better legs. It showed with the game tied in the latter stages of the third.

Connor Carrick’s second goal as a Devil proved to be the winner coming at 15:50. There was little Lundqvist could do. Drew Stafford continued his drive to be re-signed by taking back a puck from Vladislav Namestnikov and then passing for a wide open Carrick, who had all night to fire one past a frustrated Lundqvist due to Kevin Shattenkirk falling asleep. It is what it is.

Joey Anderson added a empty netter right after Lundqvist was pulled to seal the Devils victory. The former Team USA captain of the 2018 World Junior Championship bronze medal roster got to celebrate his fourth NHL goal.

Honestly, this was more about what happened during a hard fought contest that harkened back to glory days. Think 2012. No. It wasn’t quite as insane as the infamous Line Brawl I ran out of the bathroom to see. But it was refreshing to see some emotion back in a rivalry that’s been dead for a while. Look at what Lundqvist said after the game.

He’s 💯 percent right. This is professional sports. No matter what, you gotta find a way to compete even if there’s no playoffs for either team. It was hard fought in more ways than one. You had scrums, edge and heated exchanges followed by three fights. When is the last time that happened? Maybe Hasan knows the answer. I know he probably didn’t watch. He must’ve been locked in on the Mets big ninth inning highlighted by Pete Alonso’s first career home run. Your hockey team might be a bit away, but I have a sneaky feeling Alonso is the goods and the Mets will be good.

You had Brendan Lemieux right in the middle of the fireworks. Reinserted by Quinn, who felt his game had slipped, the son of popular former Devils playoff hero Claude Lemieux, was back to his ornery self. He was dishing it out and taking it all game. That included being on the receiving end of a Stefan Noesen cross check which led to Tony DeAngelo mixing it up with Nathan Bastian.

I like DeAngelo because he plays the game the right way. It’s interesting that he’s basically my height just under six feet and doesn’t back down from no one. He is more than just the skating and offensive skill he brings to the rink. I rather enjoyed his back and forth discussion with Bastian in the penalty boxes. You could tell it was good natured. Lemieux then battered Wood in a quick dust up, bloodying his nose. It was a mismatch. Wood simply picked the wrong guy.

Wow. That’s a little after I put it on. I picked the right time to watch. Lemieux is tough as nails and someone this club has lacked dating back to the good old days when Brandon Prust was standing up for teammates. Someone has to do it. The final sad days of the Alain Vigneault Era lacked that type of passion. All they ever did was skate away and infuriate the fans. It was passionless hockey. No wonder they went out with such a wimper against Ottawa. Can you believe that series was two years ago?

I really like Lemieux’s honesty here with John Giannone. He talked about both teams being frustrated and showed respect for Wood, who asked him to go. Something the replay clearly showed. I said it at the time that Wood was trying to change the momentum. It worked for his team even though he took some punishment. Like Canes play by play man John Forslund often says, “That’s hockey baby!”

Lias Andersson also had his first scrap against Blake Coleman. Let’s just say he needs work. Welcome to the NHL!

Travis Zajac got the other Devils goal on the power play. He has 18 goals on a bad team. That’s a proud veteran who is still around on the Jersey side. Not a bad season for the former top center of ZZ Pop.

Mackenzie Blackwood made 30 saves while Lundqvist stopped 37 of 40. Brett Howden got the first Rangers tally giving him three points in a two day span. Nice to see him regaining his confidence.

Given how the game finished with Chytil taking a slash, maybe we will actually have something to look forward to next season.


3rd 🌟 Miles Wood, Devils (10th of season and game changing fight)

2nd 🌟 Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (37 saves including some good ones in a busy 3rd)

1st 🌟 Connor Carrick, Devils (game winner for 2nd goal as a Devil with 4:10 left in regulation)

Notes: DeAngelo picked up a secondary assist for his 30th point. The first time he’s hit that mark. … Pavel Buchnevich sat out due to precaution after leaving Sunday’s game for concussion protocol. I hope we get to see him again before it ends. … Fredrik Claesson played for Brendan Smith, who got the night off. … The teams combined for 40 penalty minutes in the heated second.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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1 Response to Game 79: When actual predictions come true

  1. hasan4978 says:

    Yeah I was going back and forth more than I thought but obviously cared more about the Met game. Gotta hat tip Cangi for enthusiasm, those last two goal calls sounded like big game calls. I actually thought we’d win too lol, that’s why I started Blackwood over Lehner on my one fantasy team (not really going to win anything there anyway).


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