Rangers and Devils Renew Their NHL Playoffs Rivalry

Mark Messier and Ken Daneyko have been good associates whereas rising up in Edmonton, Alberta. Messier was just a few years older, however at all times supportive of his youthful skating pal. He ultimately wound up in Daneyko’s marriage ceremony get together, and their shut friendship continued after they made it to the NHL.

That is, till 1991, when Messier was traded to the Rangers.

“When he got here to New York, every thing modified,” stated Daneyko, a three-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman who spent his total 20-year profession with the Devils. “All friendships have been placed on maintain as a result of an excessive amount of was at stake. We hated them, they hated us, and the followers don’t love one another, both.”

The rivalry between the Rangers and the Devils has not at all times been white scorching. It took time to develop and cooled off for stretches when one group lagged, nevertheless it has lengthy been a smoldering fireplace simply ready to be stoked.

“The method these rivalries begin is from playoff sequence,” stated Patrick Kane, who gained three Stanley Cup championships with Chicago earlier than he was traded to the Rangers in February. “I do know these groups have not confronted one another for some time within the playoffs, nevertheless it’s nonetheless an enormous rivalry.”

The final time these groups confronted off within the postseason, the sequence ended on Adam Henrique’s additional time winner for the Devils, a shot previous Henrik Lundqvist in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on May 25, 2012. It was additionally the ultimate recreation of Chris Kreider’s distinctive rookie season. He joined the Rangers straight from Boston College and was thrown proper into the NHL playoffs, the place he scored 5 objectives in 18 video games with out having performed in a single regular-season recreation.

Three of these objectives got here towards the Devils, however they weren’t what Kreider recalled when he was requested concerning the sequence.

“Losing,” he stated. “That’s what I bear in mind. I imply, it is a completely completely different state of affairs now. Different groups, completely different gamers. It’s apples and oranges.”

The snarly tussle shall be renewed beginning Tuesday evening on the Prudential Center in Newark, with Kreider and new solid members offering the gasoline.

“It’s positively going to deliver the rivalry again up,” stated Gerard Gallant, the Rangers’ coach. “I imply, there’s at all times been a rivalry, however whenever you play groups within the playoffs, it is positively going to assist.”

The groups’ arenas are roughly 14 miles aside and separated by the Hudson River. Their followers intermingle at video games, in bars, at workplaces and generally inside households. Both fan teams infiltrate one another’s area, and the final time the groups met, in March in Newark, half the constructing gave the impression to be sporting Rangers blue.

“If I received to determine, there’d be slightly bit much less of them in right here,” Devils ahead Erik Haula stated. “But it makes it intense for everybody.”

They have confronted one another six instances within the playoffs, with the Devils profitable two of the final three matchups (in 2012 and 2006) and the Rangers profitable the primary three, together with the most effective considered one of all: the epic 1994 Eastern Conference finals.

“There have been Hall of Famers all around the ice,” Daneyko recalled. “It was top-of-the-line playoff sequence within the historical past of hockey.”

It ended with one of the crucial well-known broadcasting calls in skilled sports activities, when Howie Rose yelled out, “Matteau, Matteau, Matteau!” on WFAN radio, without end including Stéphane Matteau’s series-winning objective to the lexicon of legendary sports activities moments. Rose then screamed out that the Rangers had “another hill to climb, child,” which means the Stanley Cup finals, the place they beat the Vancouver Canucks for his or her first title since 1940, erasing a long time of ache for the franchise and its followers.

“There was much more driving on that objective than who was going to play for the Stanley Cup,” Rose stated.

A Rangers fan since 1966 when he was 12, Rose stated that to know the import of that objective one should go method again, lengthy earlier than the Devils arrived in New Jersey in 1982 (after they relocated from Colorado after beginning out in Kansas City, Mo. .). Ten years earlier than that, the Islanders have been the brand new group within the New York metropolitan space, seemingly created to torment Rangers followers by profitable 4 consecutive Stanley Cups from 1979-80 to 1982-83. Islanders followers rubbed it of their faces with incessant chants of “1940.”

“It infuriated Rangers followers past what anybody may even comprehend right this moment,” Rose stated. “That’s the again story. Now, you have received one other group, that involves New Jersey, and the very last thing a Rangers fan may tolerate was to see one other group come into this market and step on and over the Rangers.”

In their first playoff assembly, within the first spherical in 1992, the Rangers beat the Devils in seven video games. By 1994, the Devils had a brand new coloration scheme and a greater group to match the extremely gifted Rangers.

Coincidentally, the 1994 Rangers had 52 wins and 112 factors, the identical as this yr’s Devils. And the 1994 Devils had 47 wins and 106 factors, matching the win complete of the present Rangers, who earned another level, 107. The present groups are so evenly matched that betting shops have made the Rangers the one even-money “underdog”. within the playoff subject.

“I like all these guys, however I’m positive they might all say the identical factor,” stated Jimmy Vesey, a Rangers winger who performed for the Devils final yr. “It’s the playoffs. It’s critical, and positively no associates on the market.”

In 1994, the Devils gained Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, however Messier declared earlier than Game 6 that the Rangers would win. In one of the crucial outstanding performances in group sports activities, he backed it up. The Devils led, 2-0, with below two minutes to play within the second interval, when Messier assisted on Alex Kovalev’s objective. Messier scored three objectives of his personal within the third.

“An all-time nice took cost: That was our studying curve for what got here a yr later,” Daneyko stated, referring to the Devils’ championship in 1995. “Did we get forward of ourselves? Absolutely. Did we squeeze our sticks, tighten up on our heels and let the Rangers take over? Yes.”

In a Game 7 for the ages, the Devils trailed, 1-0, with below 10 seconds to play, when Valeri Zelepukin tied it — the second time the Devils scored after pulling the goalie within the sequence. The groups fought by an excruciatingly tense and scoreless first additional time. Then, 4 minutes 24 seconds into the second, Matteau hustled behind the web and, as his teammate Esa Tikkanen drove in entrance, slipped the puck in off Martin Brodeur’s glove, eliciting Rose’s chilling name.

While watching the replay on their monitor, Sal Messina, Rose’s sales space companion, questioned if maybe it was Tikkanen who scored the historic objective. Rose gulped silently.

“I’m considering to myself, Oh no, I’m both going to be the most important laughingstock in NHL historical past,” Rose recalled, “or I’m going to have to enter a studio and overdub, ‘Tikkanen, Tikkanen, Tikkanen!’”

Starting Tuesday, some new gamers might be part of Matteau, Messier, Daneyko, Brodeur, Lundqvist and Henrique within the rivalry’s pantheon.

Perhaps it will likely be the Rangers’ Jacob Trouba leveling a devastating open-ice hit on an unaware opponent, as Scott Stevens did with the Devils. Maybe Jack Hughes will rating a hat trick for the Devils, or Kane will do it in his first playoff look with the Rangers. Or perhaps a reputation nobody expects, like Matteau in 1994, will develop into a part of a brand new historical past.

Haula, Haula, Haula. Or Vesey, Vesey, Vesey.

“I anticipate it to be a basic,” Daneyko stated. “I feel it is going seven video games, and shall be epic.”

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