Rangers/Devils Game 7 Preview: Game 6 & More

The New York Rangers have excelled in elimination games, specifically Game 7’s, dating back to the 2022 Playoffs. In the first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York trailed 3-1 before they battled to win the following three games of the series. In the second-round matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers came back from a 3-2 series deficit by winning Games 6 and 7.

In the series against the New Jersey Devils during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Rangers stormed out to a 2-0 series lead before dropping Games 3-5. They rebounded by playing their best contest of the series in Game 6 on April 29 to force a Game 7 tonight. Will New York complete another series comeback and go on to play the Hurricanes in the second round of the postseason for a second consecutive year? Let’s preview tonight’s matchup.

New York Rangers Projected Lines


Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Vladimir Tarasenko

Artemi Panarin – Filip Chytil – Kaapo Kakko

Alexis Lafreniere – Vincent Trocheck – Patrick Kane

Jimmy Vesey – Barclay Goodrow – Tyler Motte


Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox

K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba

Niko Mikkola – Braden Schneider


Igor Shesterkin – Jaroslav Halak

Gallant’s Line Changes Benefit Rangers in Game 6 Victory

The combination of Kreider-Zibanejad-Tarasenko was successful during Game 6. Kreider (two assists) and Tarasenko (one goal, one assist) had multiple points at 5-on-5. Zibanejad had a tally at even strength during the second period that put the Rangers ahead 2-1.

Mika Zibanejad New York Rangers
Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The decision by Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant to move Tarasenko up to the first power-play unit in place of Kane ahead of Game 6 proved to benefit the club also. The Yaroslavl, Russia, native led New York with two scoring chances and an 0.22 individual expected goals created in 3:46 of total ice time on the man advantage. Zibanejad had an assist on Kreider’s power-play tally that tied the contest at one.

Related: Rangers’ Star Players Not Doing Their Part in Recent Losses

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Due to the success the club had in Game 6, Gallant will presumably stick with the same lines entering tonight’s contest. The new-look top six has a good blend of youth in Chytil and Kakko along with experienced playmakers in Kreider, Zibanejad, Tarasenko, and Panarin. With Zibanejad having his most productive game of the series in Game 6, look for him to capitalize on his success in Game 7.

While the playmakers are now spread out through the top nine, Trocheck said it doesn’t matter where the production comes from in tonight’s game, “We’re looking to do what we can to win a series and it’s down to one game here. Whether it’s top six, bottom six, doesn’t really matter. As a team, we’re going out there and looking to do the right things. Whether it comes from one guy, six guys, doesn’t really matter as long as we end up with more goals than them at the end of the day,” (from ‘Rangers need inconsistent top-six to make impact in Game 7,’ New York Post, 4/30/23).

Mollie Walker of the New York Post wrote that the Rangers did not have many expectations last season and were the Cinderella team (from ‘Rangers hoping they have ingredients to replicate last year’s Game 7 magic,’ New York Post, 4/30/23). The Rangers’ beat reporter labeled the Devils as this year’s Cinderella team that New York is tasked with having to defeat to move on in the playoffs. The Rangers have expectations to fulfill this year based on last season’s success. Unless the Devils win the Stanley Cup this postseason, New Jersey will enter 2023-24 as a favorite expected to go on a deep playoff run.

New Jersey Devils Projected Lines


Tomas Tatar – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt

Ondrej Palat – Jack Hughes – Erik Haula

Timo Meier – Dawson Mercer – Jesper Boqvist

Nathan Bastian – Michael McLeod – Curtis Lazar


Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton

Ryan Graves – John Marino

Kevin Bahl – Damon Severson


Akira Schmid – Vitek Vanecek

Schmid Gets the Start in Goal for Game 7

Despite being pulled in the third period of Game 6 following the Rangers’ fifth goal of the evening, Schmid will get the start in net for the Devils in tonight’s Game 7. It seemed unlikely that New Jersey head coach Lindy Ruff would bench him in favor of Vanecek for tonight’s contest. Schmid has been instrumental to why the Devils are competing in a Game 7 following his good performances in Games 3-5.

During Games 3-5, the Devils had excellent coverage in front of Schmid as their five players on the ice swarmed the Rangers forwards. They did an excellent job of limiting New York’s quality chances, particularly in Games 4 and 5 on April 24 and April 27, respectively. In Game 6, the Rangers did much better in getting shots on the net and with their forecheck, which culminated in a victory for New York.

Ruff’s Keys to Winning Game 7

In reference to Game 6, when asked on April 30 what the Devils need to improve upon in order to have a good opportunity at winning tonight, Ruff said, “Don’t take the penalties we took, manage the puck late in periods, two plays late in periods cost us. That would be the key for me. We almost played a perfect first period until the last minute.”

Ondrej Palat New Jersey Devils
Ondrej Palat, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Devils need to avoid taking multiple penalties over a short span of time tonight. In Game 6, toward the end of the first period, they had a tripping penalty on Mercer which led to Kreider’s goal. Palat had a tripping call against him as time expired during the opening period. He had a slashing call against him not long after the first penalty and New Jersey was on their third penalty kill in a span of a few minutes of game time. The Devils need to be smart with the puck and disciplined to have a good opportunity at winning tonight.

The Rangers have become all too familiar with needing to win in Game 7’s from last year’s postseason. The Devils are in the position that New York was in during last year’s playoffs. New Jersey is looking to continue their unexpected run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Whoever wins this evening will have an excellent chance of winning against the Hurricanes in the second round of the postseason.

Tonight’s game has an 8 PM ET start time and will be broadcast on ESPN.

*Advanced statistics provided by Natural Stat Trick.

*Rangers lines from @mollieewalkerr on Twitter. Devils lines from @amandacstein on Twitter.

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