New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils Preview

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 30: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers and Cory Schneider #35 of the New Jersey Devils look on during the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Skill Competition at Bridgestone Arena on January 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Tonight features yet another matchup between these bitter rivals.

New York looks to kickstart a sputtering power play and improve on an overall dismal road record when they visit the Devils in New Jersey tonight.

New York is second in the metropolitan division but only four points ahead of the Devils, who are in ninth place in the Eastern conference.

“It’s important that we remain in the moment now,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. “We have to realize what we have to do; and I really think we have the group to do something special if we push ourselves to get it done.”

Unfortunately for them, the Rangers will be without star forward Rick Nash who is third on the team with 33 points. The Rangers’ now tenuous grip on the playoffs can be traced back to a 3-10-2 record over the last 15 road games compared to a 18-5-2 home mark on the season.

The power play hasn’t bailed them out of rough road game play though; the Rangers have converted just 5 of 35 chances over the last 13 games with a paltry 1-for-24 performance in eight road contests during that stretch.

“We need to spend time on our special teams, and like I said last week, we need to be better on the road,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “We know that, but I do believe this group is on the right track here.”

The good thing for the Rangers is they are playing the Devils. The Rangers have won the last four against the Devils, notching 17 goals and are a respectable 4 for 13 on the power play. If anything can inspire the Rangers to snap their home losing streak, it would be playing the New Jersey Devils.

While making the playoffs is a minimum expectation for the Rangers (they expect to go much further), for the Devils it would be a welcome surprise. New Jersey has failed to reach the playoffs in each of the last three years.

This month will be vital for New Jersey with eight of its 13 opponents currently sitting higher in the standings. The Devils face the Rangers three times over that span.

“It’s sort of make-or-break time for us to make the playoffs this next stretch,” forward Lee Stempniak said. “It’s in division games so those are points where you beat the teams you’re chasing and you close the gap pretty quickly, and if you lose, it can run away from you pretty quickly.”

New Jersey’s scoring average of 2.24 is lowest in the East so it can be expected that they will continue to lean on superb goalie Cory Schneider during this last stretch before the playoffs. All-Star Cory Schneider is 22-15-5 with a 2.03 GAA that ties for third-best in the NHL.

The Devils have been scoring more recently, scoring wins of 6 goals (in a 6-3 victory) and 3 goals (in a 3-0 victory) recently and will look to continue more of the same against their bitter rivals: the New York Rangers. Who will take this one? It will be hard-fought no matter the victor.

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