2006_03_srangerslib.gifIf you watched the last two weeks of the NHL season you wouldn’t expect much out of this matchup. The Devils are playing their best hockey of the season, winning 11 straight and charging to the top of the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, the Rangers were stumbling all over the place, dropping five straight and choking away a division championship. Today the slate is wiped clean as the two teams meet in the playoffs for the fourth time with the Rangers holding a 3-0 series lead.

For the Rangers to win, they will need to find a way to get Jaromir Jagr free from Jay Pandolfo and the New Jersey defense. Henrik Lundqvist will need to turn in a performance similar to his Olympic run and the Rangers will have to stop committing bad turnovers in the defensive zone.

The Devils will rely on the formula that has brought them three Stanley Cups in the last 11 years, a smothering defense and Martin Brodeur. Brodeur has another stellar season, winning 43 games while stopping 91.1% of the shots against him. Brian Gionta set the franchise record for goals in a season with 48 and will annoy New York with his feisty style of play.

Gothamist’s heart wants to pick New York, but his brain is overruling him. While New Jersey clearly has the advantage of momentum, this will not be an easy series. There will be a ton of Rangers’ fans at the Continental Arena and that will mitigate the Devils’ home-ice advantage. This one will go seven games with New Jersey winning a thriller in game seven.