The first Battle of the Hudson of the 2021 season will commence in Madison Square Garden, as the Blueshirts host the Devils before beginning a four-game road trip (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
|Rangers||East Division Ranks /8||Devils|
Saturday night, the Rangers completed a two-game set against the Islanders which saw a case of Jekyll and Hyde. Thursday night, the Blueshirts had an alarming 4-0 defeat that was arguably one of their worst defeats during the David Quinn era. Two days later, the Rangers defeated that very same Islanders team 5-0 in what was arguably one of their most impressive victories of the Quinn era.
The “alarms” were going off especially once Quinn announced DeAngelo would be a healthy scratch, but it almost seems like he knows what he is doing. The Blueshirts got off to a quick start and ended the first period up 2-0 after goals from Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin. In the second period, Buchnevich would get his second of the game and Kaapo Kakko would one-time his first goal of the season. In the dying minutes of the game, Panarin would add his second of the game with a power-play goal. It was a dominating performance that spoiled the NHL debut of Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin who made an impromptu start following an injury from starter Semyon Varlamov.
“Nobody was happy with what happened the other night, but it’s all about how you respond to that,” said Quinn.
Alex Georgiev started his first game in over 300 days but you certainly couldn’t tell. Georgiev looked sharped and made some timely saves in a 23-save shutout. The 24-year-old is poised to make his second start of the season against the Devils.
“A lot of work was put into the last 10 months,” Georgiev said. “I felt like in camp, my game was pretty good and I came confident into camp and brought that into this game.”
Across the Hudson, the New Jersey Devils also have a 24-year-old goalie who is off to a fast start. MacKenzie Blackwood has started both games for the Devils and he has allowed just 3 goals in two games (plus two overtime periods) against the Boston Bruins. Blackwood currently has a 1.38 goals against average and a .954 save percentage.
On the opposing bench is former Rangers assistant coach and current Devils head coach Lindy Ruff. Ruff agreed to become New Jersey’s head coach prior to the playoff bubble back in the 2020 summer.
“This rivalry, I think it’s just starting to build,” Ruff said. “I think both clubs are going in the right direction and it’s gonna make for some really exciting hockey.”
This particular game will see the number one overall pick in both the 2019 and 2020 drafts meet at the highest level for the first time in their careers. Jack Hughes will face off against Alexis Lafreniere.
“I’m a Lafreniere fan; I know he’ll be a great player in the league one day,” said Hughes. “Hopefully he can have a great rookie year. I’ve always liked his game. I know him a little bit, he’s a really nice dude.” Hughes currently has three assists in two games.
And not to be forgotten about is the second overall pick in the 2019 draft is Kakko. Hughes and Kakko’s career will always be linked together as they were the consensus first and second overall pick in the 2019 draft. Kakko currently has one goal on the season.
The last young player to keep an eye on is New Jersey’s Yegor Sharangovich. Sharangovich scored his first career goal in his second game against the Bruins with just over a second left in overtime to secure the Devils first win of the season. The 22-year-old has been lively and will be on the top line with Hughes and Kyle Palmieri.
The Blueshirts lineup will remain the exact same with Lafreniere on the second line and Tony DeAngelo as a healthy scratch. Quinn stated that he is sticking with what worked and that DeAngelo’s discipline has concluded. Following tonight’s game, the Blueshirts will hit the road for two games in Pittsburgh and two games in Buffalo.