It is Monday already and time for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers. The Rangers are up two games to one after a 3-0 win on Saturday Afternoon that caused the blocked shot issue to ring true once again (20 blocked shots unofficially). There is this feeling that neither team can seem to put together two games in these playoffs, particularly the Rangers. New Jersey just has to do a better job playing defense than they did in Games 1 and 3. That is what gets lost in the shuffle here. It always seems to. There are some defininte changes if you are keeping score or at least trying to anyway.
With the anticipated line changes (yes Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk may be broken up from time to time), it will be interesting to see what happens here. Game 3 honestly saw Zach Parise get manhandled yet again and at times it just looks like he is rattled by it. Petr Sykora is out and Jacob Josefson is in. Maybe the Devils need to stop getting cute and start pounding the net at all costs. The Rangers are pretty much going with the same plan. Why would they need to change anything after all? Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves in all but several posts and a crossbar later say that his shutout was a bit uneven to be blunt. The Devils had chances! The first ten to twenty minutes is going to tell us something tonight, that is a given. If a team scores first, you may even be able to almost write the game off no matter how it unfolds.
Yesterday afternoon, in the Western Conference Final, the Los Angeles Kings just did not quite have the energy of the first three games and Shane Doan scored twice as Phoenix kept itself alive in the 2-0 victory. Mike Smith was very solid in net and yes he did have a few dicey moments where puck handling was again an issue but Smith plays better on the road than at home (like over a goal and a third better). Here it goes.....
Mike Smith, G, Phoenix Coyotes
Smith stopped "what Brown can do for you" yesterday with a 36 save shutout performance to keep Phoenix alive. Smith does always have some issues with puck handling and some glove side rebound control but what he did was make the crucial saves at the crucial times. Just ask Anze Kopitar what he thinks when he had several quality chances on Sunday. If Mike Smith can match what he does on the road with what he does at home, then this really could become a series. However, time will tell because Los Angeles will get back more to the heavy forechecking style that works.
SCHEDULE TIME:Monday, May 21, 2012 TeamsNotes NY Rangers at New Jersey 8:00 PM | Gameday
Well this is must win time for New Jersey and there is no retreat or no surrender. That third period was horrendous and cannot happen again. A team cannot play the style of another and expect to win. It just never works. If New Jersey does not play their game tonight, New York will eventually just grind them down and win. This is what it comes down to...imposing your will. New Jersey must start to finish chances on a more regular basis while shutting down the Rangers power play which is below average yet has scored at least once in all three games (4/10). That is not acceptable while the Rangers simply have to do more of what they did in Games 1 and 3.
Here is our sim for tonight......
NHL 12 Sim -- Devils @ Rangers Game 2
What are we going to do? Simply, we are going to run the NHL 12 sims for Game 4. The Rangers and Devils are fairly even in theory. It is all the intangibles that will play out throughout the rest of this series that will ultimately determine it. It is time.
It comes down to the Battle Of The Hudson, this simulation just had to come as these always have fantasy purposes along with fun prognostication. We played a total of seven games and this is what we came up with for our prediction. Again keep in mind, this may not happen obviously. Simply the rivalry deserves the utmost of respect in how the sims are run. Here were our results.
Devils-Rangers Game 4
NYR - Brad Richards (2:45, PP, Del Zotto and Hagelin)
NYR - Marian Gaborik (17:05, unassisted)
NYR- 26, NJD- 32
NYR- 1/4, NJD- 0/3
Final: Rangers 2 Devils 0
1. Henrik Lundqvist 2. Brad Richards 3. Marian Gaborik
The game is just hours away and if it approaches anything like the sims, it will be an awfully good one. We literally had some more consensus on this one so who knows what that will ultimately mean. Can New Jersey play its style or will New York impose more of its will? Time will tell but the sims seemed to dictate more of the same tonight. Let's see what happens and again thanks for reading.
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