Found May 14, 2012 on Fox Sports South:
Florida_panthers_v_2a4b
When the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils meet tonight in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it will mark a rematch 18 years later of one of the great series in Stanley Cup Playoff history. En route to their first Cup in 54 years, the Rangers needed seven games to get past the Devils in a series that included three double overtime games. Games 3 and 7 were both double-overtime matches, with the Rangers Stephane Matteau emerging as a folk hero who provided the game-winning goal in each. At the time, Bobby Holik was 23 and in the fourth season of what would be an 18-year career as a center in which he won the Stanley Cup twice, both with the Devils. He scored 13 goals in 70 games that season and finished a plus-28 and was a member of the Crash Line with Randy McKay and Mike Peluso that often received the assignment of neutralizing the oppositions best lines comes playoff time, a feat it was able to perform with some regularity over the years. Holik, who runs his own Web site, HolikonHockey.com, along with a shooting Web site that hes fond of (HolikonShooting.com), offered his always strongly opinionated and thoughtful insights on that series along with his prediction of this years match-up. (Holik also played for the Rangers in a tenure that was less memorable than his first with New Jersey.) In their infancy as a franchise, Wayne Gretzky once labeled the Devils a Mickey Mouse organization, an appellation for which some New Jersey fans still have yet to forgive The Great One. But in 93-94 the rookie year of goalie Martin Brodeur, who will start tonight for New Jersey the Devils made some key strides under the keen eye of general manager Lou Lamoriello in a process that ultimately made them one of the NHLs top organizations ever since. It was the first time for me to be that far in the playoffs, Holik said. It was just absolutely amazing. The Crash line, we were building our reputation throughout that playoff year. I played a role that I didnt really put an expectation on what role I am going to have. Im a two-way player who is going to contribute to the team to win hockey games, but playing on the Crash Line with Peluso and McKay throughout that playoff run, it was completely different but at the time I never thought about it as I should be a different player than I am. I just loved finally being relevant and the team being relevant. Third or fourth year, we were finally being contenders. You talk to the Devils fans of the last 25, 30 years and the Crash line is one of their best memories We went to the conference finals and we won the Cup thats an accomplishment and we played against teams lines like (Philadelphias) Legion of Doom in those years and we were contributing and it was such a great, great experience. I was young. It was a tremendous experience playing alongside Claude Lemieuxs and Bernie Nicholls and Scottie Stevens. We had a lot of young, future great players In fact, Holik credits the experience for the following season when the underdog Devils dominated heavily favored Detroit in the Cup final, sweeping the series. It was like a start for us, Holik said. We didnt win the Cup. We went to the seventh game. But we saw the end, kind of (Rangers captain Mark) Messiers greatness. It was a changing of the guard, basically. In a current era with so much parity, Holik thinks its foolish to make any predictions, but asked for his, he said he thinks the Devils will win in five or six games. He played three seasons in Atlanta as a teammate of Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk, whose 12 points rank third in the playoffs. Holik said he recognized at the time that the young Kovalchuk had the will to be great, but now he sees a player who has evolved and matured from a hard-headed scorer who only passed when he ran out of options to one who looks to pass first. Mostly, Holik sees the Devils as the more offensive team, which gives them the better chance. The Rangers also are coming off back-to-back grueling seven-game series. Their most recent series included a triple-overtime game with Washington; whereas New Jersey eliminated Philadelphia in five games. Holik thinks key Devils players who were banged-up like center Dainius Zubrus and defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov will benefit from the rest. Whether this series can live up to that of its predecessor of 18 years ago is a high bar. Holik was asked what he remembers most about that series. Obviously, Game 6 was very disappointing because we had them, Holik said of a 3-2 Devils series lead that evaporated with a 4-2 Rangers win on the Devils home ice. That was very disappointing. We had them on the ropes. Game 7, it was tied, seventh game, seven seconds left and it went to OT. What I remember the most is the tremendous experience... To play alongside and against players in their best like Messier -- he was great -- Mike Richter, Brian Leetch on the other side. Scott Stevens, Bernie Nicholls, Claude Lemieux, Stephane Richer, all these guys (on the Devils), for my generation of player it was a tremendous experience. I think because we were good enough, obviously, to go to the final but thats why we won fairly decidedly the next year because we had that experience. Not only our veteran players but even the players of my generation had that experience from the year before. Talking about 94, I have to go 95, we went throughout but came up short. But we made minimum mistakes that next year because we knew how hard it is and how much we learned.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

McIlrath, Miller, Erixon, and six others called up

Yesterday the Rangers announced that they had recalled nine players from the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. The Whale were eliminated from Calder Cup contention last week, and the nine players called up will serve as the “taxi squad.” As per Andrew Gross, they will practice separately from the current roster. It should be noted that of these players with asterisks have professional...

USA's Alex Goligosky boarded by Finland's Anssi Salmela (Video)

At the IIHF World Championship hockey tournament, Finland's Anssi Salmela was ejected for drilling USA's Alex Goligosky into the boards from behind during the third period of Sunday's game, which USA won handily by a 5-0 score. The hit was so brutal that both announcers said "Oh my goodness!" at the same time. Goligosky was OK afterwards and stayed in...

Opponent’s scouting report: Martin Brodeur

Marty, Marty Marty….our old nemesis.  We’ve been at this a long time.  Ever since you were kind enough to give us MATTEAU! MATTEAU!, back in the ’94 playoffs.  Marty Brodeur has had an unbelievable career and added plenty of fire and arrogant attitude to the rivalry the past 18 years or so.  He holds many of the NHL’s goaltending records and is a sure fire first-ballot...

Goal breakdown ECSF Game 7

Well, that was awesome, huh?  The Rangers are going to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1997 with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Conference Semi-Finals.  Brad Richards and Henrik Lundqvist were the story in this one, as well as tremendous team defense from the Blueshirts.  Let’s break down the goals… 1-0 Rangers Michael Del Zotto started...

Brad Richards has a 2 **** performance as Rangers win

Take a close look at Brad Richards' stat line from the Rangers' 3-0 Game 1 win over the Devils on Monday night. The NHL Network has him down for 20:58 in ice time with 14 faceoff wins and 2 *****? Why the two *****? Did he hit up Taco Bell before heading to the Garden? Sometime you gotta Live Mas, eh? Speaking of two *****, Rangers coach John Tortorella could give two *...

ECF Game 1: Devils at Rangers

Series: Tied 0-0 NYR Leading Scorer: Brad Richards (6-5-11) NJD Leading Scorer: Ilya Kovalchuk (5-7-12) NYR Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist (14 GS, 1.68 GAA, .940 SV%) NJD Goaltender: Martin Brodeur (12 GS, 2.05 GAA, .920 SV%) Rangers Lines: Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan Artem Anisimov-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust Mike Rupp-John Mitchell...

Rangers Fans, Time to Brush Up on Your Trash Talking Skills

I’ve been (not so) secretly rooting for a Rangers-Devils playoff series since the opening round. A Rangers-Devils series would be pretty beneficial for me at work, but as a fan I know it would have all the drama and, more importantly, fun we want from any playoff series. And that’s what we’re going to get. [...]

Average ticket resale price for Game 1 of Devils-Rangers series at MSG: $931.37

According to a report in the New York Times, the site TiqIQ.com has calculated that the average resale price for a ticket to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on Monday night came in at a jaw-dropping $931.37. Given the [...]

Rangers surge in 3rd period of Game 1

It was not a wraparound that beat Martin Brodeur this time. It was a slapshot. "I want to be a difference-maker," said Dan Girardi, the beaten Broadway fedora resting atop his head a few minutes after his slapshot from the point gave the New York Rangers a lead they would not relinquish. The home team went on to a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Eastern...

Caps eliminated with 2-1 Game 7 loss to Rangers

Although the Washington Capitals were officially eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Rangers in a Game 7 squeaker, the upstart club out of the No. 7 seed knows it let this series get away in what it thought was the final seconds of Game 5. Just 7.6 seconds away from taking a 3-2 series lead over the top-seeded Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the seventh-seeded...

The Evolution Of John Tortorella

from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo, It’s a remarkable story, really. Tortorella is a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, which goes to the NHL’s coach of the year based on the regular season. On the surface, he seems to have nothing in common with the other finalists. The St. Louis Blues’ Ken Hitchcock, another crusty old Cup winner, toned down his act to relate to today’s...

Rangers Defeat Devils 3-0 In Game 1 Of The Eastern Conference Finals

I must admit, this game was hard to watch. The Rangers shutdown the Devils’ offense all night which at times makes for boring hockey. Here’s the game winner from Dan Girardi, a power play goal early in the 3rd period.

Postgame: Rangers Eliminate Caps, Advance to Conference Finals

Complete postgame to follow. Figured I would let you guys start the party ahead of time.

Rangers 3, Devils 0

The New York Rangers defeated the New Jersey Devils by the score of 3-0 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals matchup. The Rangers lead the series 1-0. For a recap and box score go to Yahoo! Sports....that must have been some speech during the second intermission by Torts, because the Rangers were a completely different team in that third period. Very sloppy with the...

Battle of the Hudson Part 6

For hockey fans in New York and New Jersey, the Eastern Conference Finals could not be a more perfect scenario. Tonight, the Eastern Conference Finals get underway between the No. 1 seed New York Rangers and No. 6 seed New Jersey Devils. This will be the sixth time the two Hudson River rivals go at it in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Rangers winning four of the five series...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.