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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Eastern Conference Final Prediction — Devils vs. Rangers

The Devils and Rangers faced each other six times in the regular season and each team won three games—4-1 Rangers, 4-3 SO Devils, 1-0 Devils, 2-0 Rangers, 4-1 Devils and 4-2 Rangers.

In an article that I posted way back on February 15, 2012 (entitled “NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Picture”), I stated:

I believe that the Devils can do a lot of damage in the playoffs and could even go all the way if they get great goaltending—which they have not had this year. Am I crazy? Let us look at the Devils record against the Bruins, the Rangers, the Flyers, and the Penguins. The only team out of those four that New Jersey does not want to meet is Boston. Boston has won all three games this year, and two of them very convincingly. The Devils have split the four games against the Flyers, have won two out of three against the Rangers, and have won three out of four against the Penguins! So, clearly, the Devils would love to play anyone but the Bruins. The Devils will probably have to finish in 6th spot or higher to avoid a 1st Round meeting with Boston, and then hope that Boston is eliminated.”

Well, the Capitals knocked-off the Bruins and the Devils managed to get by the Panthers and then picked-up the pace in crushing the Flyers. Now they shall take on the Rangers and I am predicting a Devils victory in six or seven games.  

I don’t like Tortorella and the league has had to fine him on at least two occasions this year. In a previous article on the Rangers and Devils brawl on March 19th, I wrote:

“Rangers coach John Tortorella had started his tough guys on December 20, 2011 when they visited New Jersey so Devils coach Peter DeBoer decided to do the same in his return visits tonight and also back on February 7. In the December 20th game in New Jersey Mike Rupp and Cam Janssen fought right at the opening face-off, and in the February 7 game Rupp, Janssen, Prust and Boulton all fought at the opening face-off. When the Devils visited the Rangers on February 27 the game did not start with a fight, and in the following game between the teams on March 6 in New Jersey the game did not begin with a fight, although one occurred between Carter and Dubinsky at 3:03 of the first period.  

Tortorella is ultimately the guy responsible for all of the nonsense during the games between the two teams this year because he should never have started his tough guys in New Jersey on December 20—and he knows that damn well. This is hockey and not boxing so you always start your better players. The NHL should have fined Tortorella for purposely starting the game with intentions of having at least one of his players fight and that would have prevented all of the other fights at the start of the subsequent games. DeBoer is also guilty because he should have let things rest and not started his fighters in Monday’s game. He had already retaliated and he should not have done so again.”

Who wants a guy like Tortorella to win? He has his Rangers play dirty (when allowed to do so by the officials), and Tortorella and Ranger management always bitch and complain about judgments that the NHL has merited out on them, as well as every call that they don’t like by the officials. Mark Messier must be sick of hearing all of these babies crying all of the time?

By the way, Tortorella is a finalist for coach of the year despite the fact that he has been fined by the league, and despite the fact that he purposely went into New Jersey and started the game with his fighters. Honestly, look at Dave Tippett (not in the final three) and Ken Hitchcock (in the final three) for coach of the year but not Tortorella.

In my opinion, the NHL wants an American team to win the Cup again—because it equates to a lot more money for the league. The Rangers or Kings would be ideal in Bettman’s mind. In the series between the Senators and Rangers, the officials allowed the Rangers to play their dirty game because they knew it would be to their great advantage—and it was and they came back and won. In the Capitals and Rangers series the officials changed course and did not allow the Rangers to play dirty—the Canadian team had been eliminated so then it was time for the officials to warn the animals that they were not going to be allowed to carry on with that type of play in Round 2. My imagination? Oh really, please read on. The same thing happened last year when the Canucks had to play the Blackhawks in Round 1, and then later when they met the Bruins—two series that the NHL allowed the animals to do what they wanted on the ice since it would drastically reduce the Canucks chances of winning. Just please watch the two series and see the vicious stick-work by the Hawks and the crosschecking, punching and so forth by the Bruins! Were the Bruins allowed to brutalize the Capitals in Round 1—NO they were not and I recall hearing Ference of the Bruins say it was “good honest hockey.” The Bruins lost because the NHL was not going to allow them to play dirty; but, last year the Bruins were allowed to brutalize the Canucks and they subsequently won big—and so did the NHL financially speaking. I did see some favoritism by the officials towards the Rangers in Round 2 against the Caps, including in the final two minutes of Game 7. Will the officials continue to favor the Rangers? Probably, so the Devils are simply going to have to play harder and stay away from retaliation penalties like they did against the Flyers.

TJ Stanley