New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils Kicks off Important Divisional Stretch

Brad Richards will get his first taste of the Rangers-Devils rivalry in the regular season tonight.
Brad Richards will get his first taste of the Rangers-Devils rivalry in the regular season tonight.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Mike RappaportAnalyst IIDecember 20, 2011

Coming off of an improbable one-tenth of a second win, the New York Rangers return to action tonight as they travel across the Hudson River to take on the New Jersey Devils.

The Rangers enter this game in 4th place in the Eastern Conference with 40 points, while the Devils are just six points behind the Rangers and have won four games in a row.

Surprisingly enough, this is the first time this season the Rangers and Devils will face off, even though tonight's game is the Rangers' 31st of the season and the Devils' 33rd. One of the reasons for this is the Rangers' long road trip to start the season, where six of their first seven games were against Western Conference teams. 

Tonight's game closes out the Rangers' three-game road trip, but is the first of four games against division rivals. After tonight, the Rangers return home to face the New York Islanders on Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, and the Islanders again on December 26th. 

After 30 games, the Rangers are nearing the midway point of the season, and every game begins to grow in importance. But coupled with the fact that the Rangers played very few division games early on in the season, a lot of the remaining contests will be four-point games within the Atlantic Division.

So far this season, the Rangers have not had many battles with their division rivals. As mentioned earlier, tonight's game is the first time the Rangers are seeing the Devils in 2011-12. So far this year, the Rangers have only played the Islanders twice, the Flyers once, and the Pittsburgh Penguins once. Therefore, 20 of the remaining 52 games of the season will be divisional games for the Rangers, only adding to the intensity that comes with games down the stretch.

It all begins in New Jersey tonight.

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