New Jersey Devils Look for Second Win of 2021 in New York

The New Jersey Devils head into its third game of the NHL season on Tuesday vs. the New York Rangers. The team has split its first two games with Boston, both of which went into overtime. First year Head Coach Lindsay Ruff’s team has impressed so far, playing a much stronger brand of hockey than we have seen in New Jersey the past few seasons. 

Now, the team will face its second opponent from the Metropolitan Division, a Rangers team also coming into the game with a 1-1 record to start the season.

Start Time: Tuesday, 7:00 PM; New York, New York

Signs of Good Things to Come in New Jersey 

The biggest takeaway from the start of the season is the confidence that Ruff’s team is playing with. Both games against Boston could have gone the way of New Jersey, with the first being decided by a shootout and the second in overtime.

One thing seems for certain though, is that we will not see the same lackluster Devils team from 2019 this season.

New Jersey so far has looked both confident and organized through the first two games. The team successfully split two games against a Boston team where not many would have given them a chance. 

Not only did the team split both games and take them the distance, but the Devils were actually able to control much of the games. Through both, the New Jersey team of the last few seasons seemed a distant memory. 

Defensively the Devils have been particularly impressive, giving up the only Bruins’ goal in the second game at a disadvantage on the power play. Goalie Mackenzie Blackwood has been as good as promised, averaging a .955 save average through the first two games. 

Now, the team looks to Tuesday, where they head to New York to take on the Rangers. 

The Best and Worst Start for the Rangers

Whereas the New Jersey team a couple hours away have started the season solid, there isn't really a good indicator of which way this season will go for the Rangers. 

The team faced its in-state rivals the first two games, both with wildly different results and no middle ground to be found. The Rangers have begun the season in odd fashion, losing the first game 4-0 and winning the second 5-0. So, we could look at a couple of the positives.

  1. The team was able to bounce back in the second game from an embarrassing loss
  2. Goalkeeping changes seemed to fix the bulk of the problems 

Since we are looking at only the first two games of the season, it's hard to pass too much judgement. Still, this much of an inconsistent start does not look good for the Rangers. Especially coming up against a New Jersey team who looked quite the opposite in its first two games. 

The biggest change from the 4-0 loss in the first game came in goal for the Rangers. Igor Shestyorkin was replaced as starter for the second game by Alexandar Georgiev, who posted the shutout saving all 23 shots he faced.

After the departure of team legend Henrick Lundqvuist, a solid starting goalie is the team’s main concern. 

It's very likely that the team continues with Georgiev in goal at least for the time being, and he will certainly start against New Jersey on Tuesday. The offensive end also saw a complete turnaround, with Artemi Panarin getting his first two goals of the season. 

The bounceback second game certainly inspires confidence, which the team will hope to continue at home against the Devils.

New Jersey vs. New York Game Analysis 

What we have waiting for us on Tuesday night is likely going to be a deciding game in this shortened season. With a New Jersey win, both teams could be at opposite ends of the Metropolitan standings early in the season, with the Devils on top. 

New York is certainly not going to want to see themselves fall near the bottom so quickly, but this Devils’ team regardless may force them to do so. The 5-0 win against the Islanders did give the team some confidence in a few areas, mainly in goal. 

However, that Islanders team looked unorganized and not a real threat. The Rangers were able to break through at opportune times due to lackluster defense from its opponent. 

This will be the opposite of what we have seen so far from New Jersey, who looked very good in both of the first two games against a good Boston team. The Devils will want to continue its momentum that the team has found under new coach Ruff, and prove it against a new opponent. 

Goaltending and team organization will be the main factors Tuesday night, as both teams will have momentum coming off of their first wins of the season.