New York Rangers excited for Garden energy against Devils in Game 3
After two dominant performances on the road, the New York Rangers play their first postseason game at Madison Square Garden looking to go up 3-0 in the series.
“It’s amazing– one of the cooler experiences you can have,” Mika Zibanejad said of playing at the Garden. “There were a lot of Rangers fans in their building the last two games. Now we get to come home and have more Rangers fans in our building.”
The Blueshirts went 8-2 at home in the playoffs last year. They are also 5-1 in a best-of-seven series after winning the first two road games.
Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:
New York Rangers (2-0) vs New Jersey Devils (0-2)
Date/Time: April 22, 2023 at 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Radio: ESPN 98.7
New York Rangers excited for Garden energy
The Rangers know all to well the boost they will get from their fans when they hit the ice at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
During last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Final, they won a crucial Game 7 in OT in the opening round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Taking on the Carolina Hurricanes in round-two, the Rangers won all three home games to win that series in 7. New York got off to a great start versus the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning the first two games on home ice before losing four straight.
While the excitement will be palpable, the Rangers are not losing sight of the task at hand. Learning from last year’s playoff experience, they’re going to keep the pressure on the New Jersey Devils.
“We’re just going to get ready and try to play another game,” Gerard Gallant said Friday.
One thing that’s been huge so far for the Rangers is their special teams play. New York is 4 for 10 (40%) on the man advantage and 7 for 8 on the PK (87.5%).
Chris Kreider has all four goals on the power play and became the first player in NHL history to score four power play goals in the first two games of a series.
“He’s one of the best, not only in the league, but just that I’ve ever seen,” Patrick Kane praised Kreider. “He’s able to get his stick on everything. Even in practice he touches everything and it’s tough to cover that.”
Another key to the Rangers hot start on the power play has been defenseman Adam Fox, who has 6 points (all assists) to lead the team in playoff scoring.
“Because Fox is shooting the puck now,” Gallant explained. “Instead of giving it to Mika (Zibanejad) on the side, he’s shooting more pucks and Kreids is getting more opportunities in front of the net.”
Another huge aspect of the Blueshirts success that is taking a backseat to all the goals scored has been their defense. They’ve only allowed two goals in this series, one was a Jack Hughes penalty shot and the other was a power play marker by Erik Haula.
Igor Shesterkin continues to be the backbone of the team with a GAA of 1.00 and a .962 save percentage. Both those stats are tops in the NHL for the postseason to date.
Meanwhile, the Devils are desperately looking for answers after going 3-0-1 against the Rangers during the regular-season.
“We just got whacked for the second straight game,” Hughes said. “We’re not playing to our standard, and it’s biting us in the ass right now.”
Now that the series shifts back to the Garden, a lot of questions regarding what the Devils will do with their lineup remains. One possibility is starting Akira Schmid over Vitek Vanecek, who is 0-2 in the series with a GAA of 4.52 and an .827 save percentage.
No matter what the Devils may throw their way, the Rangers are relying on their experience to see it through.
It’s never over,” Ryan Lindgren noted. “It’s a best of seven– a long series and we just want to play our game.”
Update: Akira Schmid appears to be the Game 3 starter.