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Playoff Bound Rangers Face Devils

Finishing off the season on a 7-3-0 run, the Rangers hope to continue playing winning hockey when they meet New Jersey in the first round.

At 107 points, the Devils finished the season third in the Eastern Conference, only one point behind the first and second place teams, making the Rangers the underdog in the series.

The Rangers however, made a blockbuster trade just before the trade deadline to pick up one of the league’s best scorers of all time in Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin on the first line and first power play unit with Leon Draisaitl has become one of the league’s most lethal combinations and the second line now has the young gun tandem of Nico Hischier and Timo Meier.

Draisaitl was the top winger in the league this season at 98 points, and undoubtedly the Devils will have their top two defensemen in Jacob Trouba and Mattias Ekholm all over him.

On the defensive end, team captain Drew Doughty and Norris-hopeful Roman Josi lead a deep defensive squad that includes upcoming stars Mikhail Sergachev and former 8th overall pick Adam Boqvist. Josi led the league in minutes played this season, came in fourth in defenseman scoring, and eighth in blocked shots.

The Rangers defense will have their hands full with the Devils. New Jersey outscored the Rangers by 17 goals this season led by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Toews, and Alex Radulov - who all ended the season 30+ tallies.

In net it will be Semyon Varlamov versus Darcy Kuemper. Varlamov was league’s fourth best in terms of wins with 40, but Kuemper was only one behind at 39 with a better GAA and save percentage. Goaltending could be the difference in a close series, so this will be a key matchup to watch.

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