The Transit Rivalry Gets Heated, Devils Take Game 4
The New Jersey Devils, being down two games to one, decided to fight back last night when they took on the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden for Game 4 of this heated rivalry series. Tempers definitely flared on both sides in last night's Game 4, but the story of the game had to be Devils head coach Peter DeBoer's lineup change. Devils right winger Petr Sykora was made a healthy scratch for Game 4 to make room to put in the youngster Jacob Josefson.
Although the 21 year old, Josefson did not register a point, the 6'1" Swede won 64% of faceoffs taken and showed an amazing ability to get back on defense. However, even with all the hustle from the forwards on the Devils to get back on defense, this win may have not been possible without the outstanding performance from future hall of fame goaltender, Martin Brodeur. Brodeur was the better goaltender last night, stopping 28 of 29 total shots faced for a save percentage of .966, in what ended up being a 4-1 Devils win.
The Rangers did not have an answer for the Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus line. Parise was definitely on top of his game last night, getting two goals and an assist. Devils defenseman, Bryce Salvador also got his name on the score sheet a couple of times, but got the scoring started with a sneaky shot from the point through traffic. Salvador's shot innocently slipped through the pads of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Salvador's goal was not the only scoring in the opening period of Game 4, Parise was able to swiftly saucer a pass over the lone defenseman's stick to a streaking Zubrus for a one-timer goal for a two goal lead going into the second period. The first period was actually the only period that the Devils were able to outshoot the Rangers 12-7. The second and third period's shot totals favored the Rangers 11-9 respectively.
Penalty minutes started to rise when the third period got underway. The Rangers had a total of 43 penalty minutes, including two game misconducts on Stu Bickell and Mike Rupp. Rupp's misconduct must have enraged him so much to take a swipe at Brodeur's head before skating off the ice. The Devils only had 23 penalty minutes, almost half of the minutes in the sin-bin than the Rangers served.
After the misconduct on Rupp, Rangers head coach John Tortorella met with DeBoer at the middle of the two benches and had a screaming match. Although it does not set a good example for future hockey players, hockey fans have to love the amount of passion both of these teams, as well as coaches have shown.
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Within the first 2:41 of the third period, the Devils were able to increase their lead to 3-0 with Parise's first goal of the game. The Rangers were able to answer too little too late, with a goal from Ruslan Fedetenko with just over five minutes left to play in regulation. Unfortunately for Rangers fans, Parise was able to top off his night by getting an empty net goal with 1:29 left on the clock.
This Game 4 consisted of a ton of after the play antics, not limited to Rupp's jab on Brodeur. Many players were involved, but it was interesting to see Illya Kovalchuk getting in the middle if things, including a stick jab to a Ranger who had pushed Kovalchuk to the ice after a play in front of the net.
Marian Gaborik had a hit that will be under a microscope until these two teams play again on Wednesday. Although it did not look intentional, it was clear on the replay that Gaborik's elbow made contact to the head of the Devils defenseman. It probably is not suspension worthy, especially this late in the postseason, but who knows if NHL's head of players safety, Brendan Shanahan will suspend another Ranger, considering Brandon Prust was suspended for this game for the same type of hit.
The Rangers need to not take as many penalties as they did in Game 4 if they expect to get past this round. There are ways to be a physical team that does not send someone to the box. Gaborik has been held without a point the entire series thus far, and needs to get going for the Rangers to have a shot.
The Devils power play was not as efficient as they wanted it to be in Game 4, but it did get the job done, converting only one opportunity out of six total chances with the man advantage. The Devils played a very complete game in Game 4, but do not think the Rangers are going to let the result which happened in Game 4, happen again, especially at home on Wednesday.
By: Stephen London
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer