NHL Playoffs 2012: 5 Reasons the Rangers Will Defeat the Devils

Brad KurtzbergContributor IMay 14, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: 5 Reasons the Rangers Will Defeat the Devils

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    Cross-river rivals meet in the East Conference Finals when the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils take on the top-seeded New York Rangers.

    The Rangers edged the Devils 3-2-1 in the six fight-filled regular season meetings between the two clubs when nearly every game was close and hotly contested.

    The winner of this series advances to the Stanley Cup Finals to face the winner of the Kings-Coyotes series which means at least one team from the New York metro area will be playing for the Stanley Cup.

The Rangers Have Home Ice Advantage

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    The Rangers earned the home-ice advantage in this series by posting the best record in the Eastern Conference during the regular season.

    Already, they have won a pair of Game 7s on home ice against the Senators and Capitals. If this series goes the distance, again the Rangers will be playing in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden.

    The Garden rocks for playoff hockey. Fans start by drowning out John Amirante when he sings the national anthem and the intensity just grows from there.

    Add the fact that there are a lot of Rangers fans in the stands at the Prudential Center in Newark (often as high as 40 percent during the regular season) and the Devils' home ice advantage is slightly reduced.

    In a close series, playing an extra game at MSG can be a difference maker for the Rangers.

The Rangers Have More Depth on Defense

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    The Rangers have a blue line full of young veterans who have a lot of physical talent and are just gaining enough playoff experience to be reaching their prime.

    The Rangers top four of Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh provide solid physical play in their own zone and are very smart when deciding to join the rush. They block shots and do a good job of keeping opponents on the perimeter away from rebounds and deflections that lead to high quality scoring chances on Henrik Lundqvist.

    New Jersey has an underrated set of defensemen but the tandem of Bryce Salvador, Marek Zidlicky, Andy Greene and Mark Fayne just can't match the Rangers top four for overall play.

    Over the course of a long series, this edge can make a big difference as to both the quality and the number of shots each goalie faces and who wins a close game.

Henrik Lundqvist Gives the Rangers an Edge in Goal

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    Sure, Martin Brodeur is one of the greatest goalies ever to play the game, but while he is still very good at age 40, he is no longer the best in the game right now.

    Brodeur is still a quality NHL netminder: he has a solid 2.05 GAA and .920 save percentage during the playoffs, but the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist is 10 years younger than his Devils' counterpart and in the prime of his career.

    Lundqvist is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy again this year and played so well he is also a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP. 

    In the postseason this year, Lundqvist has a stellar 1.68 GAA and a .937 save percentage. Henrik is the best player on either team on the ice which gives the Rangers an important edge.

John Tortorella Has More Experience Than Peter DeBoer

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    Love him or hate him, Rangers Coach John Tortorella has a track record as an established NHL winner.

    Torts won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 and has won more than 400 regular season and postseason games as an NHL coach. This is his 7th trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs as a bench boss.

    In 2004, he also won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best Coach.

    New Jersey's Peter DeBoer has done a great job with the Devils this season after three mediocre seasons behind the bench with the Florida Panthers.

    This is the first time DeBoer has led an NHL team to the playoffs.

    It's not that DeBoer isn't a very good coach, he is; but Tortorella is a great coach and one with more experience.  Again, in a tight series, this slight edge can be a difference maker for the Rangers.

History Is on the Rangers Side

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    The Rangers and Devils have met five times in the playoffs and the Rangers have found a way to win four of them.

    Historically, the Rangers find a way to win close games against the Devils whether it's Stephane Matteau's two double overtime goals in 1994, Adam Graves wraparound winner in 1997 or Sean Avery getting under Brodeur's skin back in 2008.

    Add to that the fact that the Rangers have never lost a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden in their history, and you have a slight psychological edge for the Rangers