Rangers vs. Devils: Strong Defensive Play Will Lead New York to Win

Josh SachnoffContributor IIIMarch 19, 2013

N.Y. Ranger defensemen Ryan McDonagh.
N.Y. Ranger defensemen Ryan McDonagh.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Rangers are coming off a much needed 2-1 shootout win against Carolina, but can the Rangers make it two in a row at rival New Jersey on Tuesday night? 

New York Rangers @ New Jersey Devils 7 p.m. ET

The Rangers came into the 2013 season with high expectations and a mindset of contending for a Stanley Cup after being knocked out of the Eastern Conference finals by this very New Jersey Devils team last season.

Things have not been going according to plan, though. The Rangers have been inconsistent and their offensive production has declined.

New York had scored just two goals in three games heading into the Carolina game on Monday night, meaning there had been a lot of pressure on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to stop everything that came his way. 

Both New York and New Jersey are in need of a win tonight as they continue to play for playoff positioning. The Devils will have backup goaltender Johan Hedberg in net for his 13th consecutive start.Martin Brodeur is very close to returning and has been activated, according to The Star-Ledger.

With that said, the Rangers have momentum heading into Tuesday’s game and will look to win their second game in a row with strong defensive play. 

The Rangers may not put many past Hedberg on Tuesday night, but the play from defensemen Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto and Dan Girardi will be key. It has not been confirmed yet whether Henrik Lundqvist or Martin Biron will get the start, but expect a strong performance on the defensive end again tonight. 

New York is currently fourth in the league in goals against and is giving up just 2.4 goals per game. The Rangers have also been solid on the penalty kill this season and are ranked eighth in the league. 

If the Rangers can manage to keep the puck out of the net and find a way to score at least three goals on Hedberg, they have a legitimate chance of winning, especially if Lundqvist or Biron are on the top of their game. 

Lundqvist has a save percentage of .921 this season and played out of his mind against Carolina on Monday night by turning away 29 of 30 shots in a 2-1 overtime shootout victory. 

Biron has only started four games this season, going 2-1-1, but has played well for the most part when he has been given the nod. He could also play a big role in Tuesday night’s game if he gets the start.