NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: 6 Players to Watch in Eastern Conference Finals

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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: 6 Players to Watch in Eastern Conference Finals
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

The top-seeded New York Rangers and sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils start their Eastern Conference championship series on Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.

The Hudson River Rivalry resumes. These two neighboring teams have met five times before in the playoffs in the last 21 years, with the Rangers winning four of those encounters. The only time they met for the Eastern Conference title was the memorable series in 1994, when Mark Messier guaranteed victory after the Rangers went down 3-2. New York did come back to win Games 6 and 7, then beat Vancouver in seven games in the final to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940.

Since the Rangers also dispatched Washington in the second round back in '94, fans in the Big Apple are hoping that the fates are aligning to lead them to a similar triumph in four weeks' time.

Before the series begins, here's a look at six key players to watch.

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