2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Picks: Eastern Conference Finals New Jersey Devils vs New York Rangers Odds, Series Price and Predictions: Being rivals in the Atlantic Division, the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers aren’t exactly strangers to one another. They say familiarity breeds contempt, and there is no shortage of dislike between these two franchises. As if two teams that don’t like each other to begin with needed any extra motivation, their upcoming meeting in the Eastern Conference finals will only increase the intensity on the ice. Fittingly, the teams split six meetings during the regular season, and it may take at least six more games to decide which side gets to play for the Stanley Cup.
After dispatching the Philadelphia Flyers in five games, there is no question that the sixth-seeded Devils are the more rested team in this series. In contrast, the top-seeded Rangers have had anything but an easy path to the conference finals, needing seven games to get by the eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators and seventh-seeded Washington Capitals. Even though New York won the Atlantic Division during the regular season and New Jersey finished fourth, a strong argument can be made that the Devils are playing the better hockey entering this series.
A big reason for the New Jersey’s sudden surge is the improved play of goalie Martin Brodeur. The future Hall of Famer has carried the Devils to championships in the past, and even at age 40, he is playing his best on the biggest stage. He has a 2.05 goals against average and a .920 save percentage in the postseason, which is nearly half a goal better than during the regular season. Brodeur may not be perennial Vezina Trophy contenders he used to be, but might just have a Stanley Cup run left in him.
Of course, the Rangers boast a goaltender that has supplanted Broduer as the steadiest in the NHL in Henrik Lundqvist. He finished third in the league in save percentage during the regular season and was tied for third with eight shutouts. In the postseason, his 1.68 GAA is the second best of any goaltender, and his .940 save percentage is third best. By the numbers, Lundqvist is the superior net minder in this series, but until he and the Rangers break through and win a title, the mental edge is going to side with Brodeur and the Devils.
With physical defense a given between these two long-time rivals and goalies on both sides playing their best, this series will likely come down to which team can score the tough goals in key situations. For the Rangers, veterans Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik have been the delivering big goals all year. Richards and Gaborik rank first and second for New York with 11 and 10 points in the postseason, and Richards has delivered a team-high six goals. The two have been the Rangers’ top offensive weapons, and the fact that teams are still struggling to slow them down bodes well for New York’s chances.
Meanwhile, the Devils boast three legitimate scoring stars in Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and David Clarkson. All three scored at least 30 goals during the regular season, and all three have at least eight points in the playoffs. Kovalchuk is leading the way with 12 points, despite missing one game. New Jersey could also have the X-factor in the series in center Travis Zajac. He missed almost the entire regular season with an Achilles’ injury, but he is making up for lost time in the playoffs. Zajac already has five goals and five assists, and he has been the extra firepower on offense that the Devils were missing most of the year.
Even though the Rangers are the No. 1 seed and won the same division the Devils finished fourth in, these teams are much-more evenly matched than those numbers indicate. New York won just three more games than New Jersey, more importantly, they split their six meetings. Lundqvist is the better goaltender at this stage in his career, but Brodeur is far from washed up. In addition, the Devils have more weapons on offense and appear to be peaking at the right time. New York has been advancing by the slimmest of margins this postseason, but the Rangers’ luck will likely run out against a red hot New Jersey team.
Prediction: New Jersey Devils Win in 6 Games
Get expert NHL handicapping picks, tips and predictions daily from World Champion Handicapper Sonny LaFouchi(aka The LEGEND) only on NSAwins.com! Plus check out daily updated odds to win the 2012 Stanley Cup!
New Jersey Devils vs New York Rangers Series Price
New Jersey Devils +120
New York Rangers -140
|2 EASY STEPS to BET on the 2012 NHL Playoffs and Stanley Cup Odds Daily!
STEP 1: CLICK HERE to OPEN JustBET Account
STEP 2: Deposit with Credit Card, Deposit by Check or Money Transfer and get a 100% BONUS upto $2500 FREE instantly added to your account. You may also call Toll-Free 1-800-379-9524.