Let the playoffs begin! It’s that time of year again.Quarterfinals are starting and everyone is starting to bet on whom the StanleyCup finalists will be.
In the Eastern Conference, the No. 4 New Jersey Devils willbe playing the No. 5 New York Rangers first round. The Rangers finished off theseason pretty strong at 5-1-4 in their last 10 games. The Ranger team ischalked full of playoff experience with the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Chris Drury,Scott Gomez, and Brendan Shanahan. As a former New Jersey Devil, Gomez willhave to step up and use his knowledge of the Devils team to beat his formerteammates on the ice. Veterans Shanny and Jagr are both Stanley Cup winners whoknow what it takes to get to the championship. If the Rangers want to advanceinto the next round, these vets will have to play strong and get the entireteam ready and focused.
Although the Rangers went 4-1-3 against the Devils thisyear, all slates get wiped clean come playoff time. Neither of these teamsscore much, as the Rangers ranked 25th in goals per game, while New Jersey camein at 27th. Both teams will have to play their best if they want tomake it into the semifinals, and every goal will be hard earned. When trying toscore on a goalie as talented as Martin Brodeur, teamwork is key. Everyone willhave to work together as a team to get as many shots on goal as possible.Burying Brodeur with shots will force him to either make big saves or let ingoals.
The outcome of the series will ultimately depend on whichteam and which goalie is the most on their game. New York’s Henrik Lundqvisthas had quite a year, and he has proved several times that he is definitelyplayoff qualified. While Brodeur has experience on his side, Lundqvist isalways fresh and ready for anything.
At this point, the Quarterfinal series between the Rangersand Devils is anybody’s game. Both teams will have to bring everything they’vegot in order to pull of the win. The series will be hard fought between these bitterrivals, but if fate has its way, the most qualified team will ultimately comeon top and continue on to the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoff Semifinals. Perhaps the New York Rangers can finally reclaim the pride and bragging rights that they lost to the Devils after being quickly defeated during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2006.