The New Jersey Devils will face the rival New York Rangers in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning Monday, April 17. This is the first time these two teams will meet in the postseason since the 2012 Eastern Conference Final, in which the Devils won.
The New Jersey Devils are back in the postseason for just the second time in the past 11 seasons. The last time New Jersey made the playoffs, it was dispatched quickly by the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 2018, the year Taylor Hall won MVP. Now, the Devils are led by another MVP candidate – Jack Hughes. The All-Star center broke the franchise mark for points in a season with 99, breaking the record held by Patrik Elias.
The Devils play a relentless style and wear down their opponents with aggressive zone entries. New Jersey finished in the top-10 in goals and shots on goal per game this season. It has also been a while since the Devils got above-average goaltending. That changed with Vitek Vanecek this season. He finished 33-11-4 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 52 games. The one knock on New Jersey may be a surprisingly underwhelming power play, while its penalty kill is also in the top third of the NHL.
The Devils big move during the season was a trade for San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier, who will be a restricted free agent after this season. It was a play (potentially) both for this season and the future, if Meier signs a new contract. Jesper Bratt will also need to be dealt with but the Devils feel confident going into the postseason and making a run before addressing the roster in the offseason.
The Rangers are a team going all-in on the postseason. Last season the Rangers were up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Final and lost four straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning to lose the series. New York has Cup aspirations again and this time the Rangers will have a few big-time reinforcements. Patrick Kane was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks and Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues. Those two have made the Rangers’ top-6 one of the most potent in the NHL. The Rangers rely heavily on goalie Igor Shesterkin and the power play to carry them. Special teams and Shesterkin standing on his head like last season will be the key to the Rangers returning to the Conference Final and making the Stanley Cup.
2023 NHL Playoffs: Devils vs. Rangers schedule
Game 1: Rangers @ Devils, Tuesday, April 18, 7 p.m. ET TBS
Game 2: Rangers @ Devils, Thursday, April 20, 7:30 p.m. ET TBS
Game 3: Devils @ Rangers, Saturday, April 22, 8 p.m. ET ABC
Game 4: Devils @ Rangers, Monday, April 24, 7 p.m. ET ESPN
Game 5: Rangers @ Devils, Thursday, April 27 TBD
Game 6: Devils @ Rangers, Saturday, April 29, TBD
Game 7: Rangers @ Devils, Monday, May 1 TBD