Rangers-Devils Preview

Rob CristinoCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2010

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 22:  Jamie Langenbrunner #15 of the New Jersey Devils handles the puck as Michael Del Zotto #4 of the New York Rangers defends during their game on October 22, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

With just one regulation loss in their last 12 games, the New York Rangers currently sit in sixth place in the tightly compacted Eastern Conference with 50 points.

Though it’s too early to pay attention to the standings, some feel fifth or sixth place could be where the Rangers finish at the end of the season, as long as they continue on this winning path.

The 2009-10 Rangers have been a very tough team to figure out, mainly due to their many inconsistencies that range from a sputtering offense to their shaky defense, and at times, inconsistent goaltending.

One game they will surprise you with a great offensive effort and great goaltending, then the next game it’s the total opposite.

The Rangers are 8-1-3 in their last 12 games and have shown some promise that gives hope for another playoff appearance.

The major theme during that span has been solid goaltending, along with an offense that has been capable of scoring more than just the two-goal average that we have been seeing throughout the first half of the season.

Which team will we see during the final three-and-a-half months of the season is anyone’s guess, but fans can only hope that the recent offensive surge isn’t a fluke and is here to stay a little while longer.

With Vinny Prospal set to return to the lineup after missing seven games due to knee surgery, he could provide the team with an additional spark.

The Rangers have a true challenge awaiting them on Tuesday night with a game against their Atlantic Division rival, not to mention, the Eastern Conference-leading New Jersey Devils (31-11-1).

The two teams have not faced each other since October, when the Rangers won the first meeting 3-2 and the Devils took the second 4-2.

Led by Martin Brodeur, the Devils have won 10 of their last 13 games. The Rangers will need to keep pressure on Brodeur, but will also need to find a way to shut down Zach Parise (who leads the Devils with 20 goals and has recently been named an alternate captain of Team USA), Jamie Langenbrunner (who is second on the team with 40 points and has been recently named captain of Team USA), and Travis Zajac (who is third on the team with 35 points).

According to Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants, the Rangers have posted an 11-4-1 record against the Devils since the start of the 2007-08 season.

With both teams playing well over their last few games, it should be yet another great game between the two cross-river rivals.

After Tuesday night’s game, the Rangers and Devils will square off just three more times in the 2009-10 season.

Rangers vs. Devils Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.