Tonight, it’s Game Two of the Battle of Hudson at The Prudential Center in Newark. Unlike Tuesday, the start time is 7:30 EST.
The Rangers lead the best of seven first round series, one game to none. They thoroughly outplayed the Devils to take Game One, 5-1. Special teams played a big role. They killed off all four Devils’ power plays without allowing a shot. The Blueshirts went 2 for 3 on a pair of Chris Kreider power play goals.
Although the Devils out-shot the Rangers 28-16 at five-on-five to create a few good scoring chances, including a couple for Nico Hischier and one dangerous opportunity for Jack Hughes, it wasn’t enough. They only had five high danger chances for the game.
Not surprisingly, coach Lindy Ruff has made some changes to his lineup. If the morning skate is any indication, it looks like the top two scoring lines will have a different look. Timo Meier was with Hischier and Dawson Mercer. Hughes is between Ondrej Palat and Jesper Bratt.
That means Tomas Tatar has been moved down to the third line. He was lined up with Erik Haula and Miles Wood. Wood was elevated from the checking line. That line consists of Mike McLeod, Nathan Bastian, and Yegor Sharangovich.
More of a scoring threat than Jesper Boqvist, Sharangovich is a good skater with a dangerous shot. He also plays shorthanded. Although he had a down third season posting 13 goals and 17 assists in 75 games, Sharangovich scored two shorthanded goals. During the season series, he scored twice versus the Rangers.
It should be noted that he’s fared well over his career against the Blueshirts. In 16 total games, he has six goals and five assists.
That’s why I’m not shocked that Ruff would insert him. I had a feeling he’d replace Boqvist for what could be a must win game for the Devils. They don’t want to fall behind by two games with the next two shifting to Manhattan.
Everything else for the Devils looks the same. The defensive pairs remain intact. Vitek Vanecek gets a chance to respond to a tough first game where he gave up four goals on 22 shots. Here’s how they’ll line up.
UPDATE: Ruff has also decided to make a change to his D. Veteran Brendan Smith is in for Jonas Siegenthaler. He will play on the third pair with Damon Severson. Here’s the reprised D pairs:
After winning the first game, Gerard Gallant was pleased with his team’s effort. They were able to limit the Devils’ transition by minimizing space. They managed the puck well. When under pressure, they blocked 23 shots.
Igor Shesterkin was able to see every shot. He made 27 saves. Figure the Devils to drive the net more. They’ll be desperate.
The Blueshirts will need more than 16 shots at five-on-five. They can’t expect to rely on their power play. Of the four lines, it was the play of Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere, and Kaapo Kakko that was most effective at even strength. Gallant rewarded them late. That led to Chytil’s empty netter.
The checking line centered by Barclay Goodrow was strong. He, Jimmy Vesey, and Tyler Motte did a good job. They all play roles on the penalty kill with Goodrow standing out in Game One. They also created one great scoring chance, but Vanecek stoned Motte.
There shouldn’t be any changes for tonight. Figure the Rangers to line up as they did on Tuesday.
I have a lot to say about the senile dinosaur and his lineup decisions but I’ll leave that (and my criticisms of pretty much almost everyone on the roster) for the evisceration tomorrow. I’m already up too late as it is tonight. I know you’re not going to say the series is over…but it’s over. Name me one team that not only lost the first two games of a series at home, but did it THIS badly and then came back to win it? Bruins-Habs in 2011 and Kings-Ducks in 2014 are the only series that immediately come to mind where the home team lost the first two and even came back to win…but they weren’t completely clowned in the first two like the Devils have been.
Not too many. It’s hard to win when your best players aren’t your best players. Or the lack of discipline, and not covering Kreider, who’s automatic down low. I still think the Hughes’ chance was the game. That was a monster save by Shesterkin. Then it swung quickly. I imagine we’ll see Schmid tomorrow.