It’s the first battle of the season between the New Jersey Devils and their archrivals, the New York Rangers, as the two teams face off at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. This is the first of four meetings between the teams, kicking off with two games in two weeks at MSG, while the latter two will be at Prudential Center later in the season. The Devils are 18-4-0 and lead the Metropolitan Division with 36 points, while the Rangers are fifth with a record of 10-8-4, with 24 points on the season.
For the second straight game, the fans at Prudential Center threw objects onto the ice, but this time it was for something that made Devils fans happy. Jack Hughes scored a hat trick in the team’s 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals and was easily the first star of the night. Nico Hischier scored on the power play, and Fabian Zetterlund found his fourth goal of the season, while Vitek Vanecek impressed against his former team, stopping 37 of 38 shots en route to the victory. It was also a monumental day for head coach Lindy Ruff, who became the fifth coach in NHL history to reach 800 career victories.
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The matchup against the Rangers continues an important stretch for New Jersey, as they have several games against divisional opponents coming up. They face off in Philadelphia against the Flyers on Dec. 3 before two straight against the New York Islanders and Rangers on Dec. 9 and 12. The Blueshirts, meanwhile, do not have another divisional matchup until their second game against the Devils.
New Jersey made several roster moves, calling up Nico Daws, Alexander Holtz, and Kevin Bahl from Utica. Nathan Bastian was not seen at the morning skate, and with Akira Schmid out due to illness, Daws was called up. Ruff later said that Bastian will be out “a bit” with his injury.
The Devils Projected Lines:
Tomas Tatar – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Erik Haula – Jack Hughes – Dawson Mercer
Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Fabian Zetterlund
Yegor Sharangovich – Jesper Boqvist – Alexander Holtz
Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton
Ryan Graves – John Marino
Brendan Smith – Damon Severson
The Rangers Projected Lines:
Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Jimmy Vesey
Artemi Panarin – Filip Chytil – Kaapo Kakko
Alexis Lafreniere – Vincent Trocheck – Barclay Goodrow
Sammy Blais – Ryan Carpenter – Julien Gauthier
Libor Hajek – Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba
Zac Jones – Braden Schneider
What’s Happening in New York:
The Rangers had a matinee game against the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 26, and it was a disappointment. Entering the third period, the Rangers were up 3-0 before surrounding four third-period goals, two of them off Evan Bouchard’s stick. It resulted in a heartbreaking loss at MSG in front of Rangerstown. “I don’t remember a four-goal period. So, for tonight, we were awful,” head coach Gerard Gallant said. ”It’s not acceptable.” It’s the second of back-to-back losses for the Rangers; they lost to the Ducks in Anaheim on Nov. 23.
New York entered the season with high expectations, especially after coming within two games of the Stanley Cup Final last June. They have arguably the best goalie in the league in Igor Shesterkin, and the Devils will have to try and beat the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. He has ten wins in sixteen games and an impressive .914 save percentage. However, the Rangers will be without Ryan Lindgren, who did not practice Sunday due to an upper-body injury. Following their battle with their Hudson River rivals, the Rangers have a home-and-home series against the Ottawa Senators, traveling to Kanata on Nov. 30 before returning to the Garden on Dec. 2.
Keep an Eye On:
New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes
Jack Hughes continues to impress this season, and against Washington, the 2019 first-overall pick scored the first hat trick of his career. Of his four shots on goal, three of them found the back of the net. His second of the night might have been among the best all season, scoring off Charlie Lindgren’s mask and extending New Jersey’s lead to 3-0. “A hatty is a hatty, but obviously, for it to come in a win makes you want to enjoy it more,” the young star said. “That’s a great win for us.”
Hughes had an amazing season last year, putting up 26 goals and 56 points in 49 games. This season he has 11 goals and 25 points in 22 games, seven of those points coming on the man advantage. He also feels comfortable shooting the puck a little bit more, as he has 92 shots on goal and is averaging just over 4 per game. Hughes is one of the biggest contributors to the Devils’ success this season, and the game against the Capitals proved how much of a difference he makes when he is on the ice.
New York Rangers: Adam Fox
Adam Fox has quickly established himself as one of the league’s best young defenseman. He already has a Norris Trophy on his resume, and his 2022-23 season has been off to a blazing start. In 22 games, Fox has 24 points, leading a roster that includes Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. Six of those 24 have come on the power play. In the past five games, Fox has five points, including an assist on Alexis Lafreniere’s goal against the Oilers. While he doesn’t put the puck in the net often, he is an assist machine and had an impressive 63 assists last season. He can easily cause some serious damage against the Devils.
Where to Watch:
The tilt between the hated rivals will air on two networks. MSGSN will carry the Devils feed with Bill Spaulding and Ken Daneyko, while MSG has the Rangers feed, as Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti will provide commentary from the Rangers’ perspective. NHL Network will carry the action for out-of-market fans. The Devils Hockey Network will provide fans the opportunity to listen to the action, with Chris Wescott and Chico Resch providing commentary duties.
Erik Johnsen is one of the NJ Devils writer for The Hockey Writers. He is also a writer for Triple Play Newsletter. Erik is a 2022 Rider University graduate, and co-hosts a podcast called Too Many Men.