by Patrick Hoffman on 05/14/12 at 11:13 AM ET
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’s.
The Blueshirts are coming off their second Game 7 victory of the 2012 postseason as they were able to finally knock out the Washington Capitals in the postseason after failing to do so in 2009 and 2011. The Rangers came through when they needed to and showed that when they are under a ton of pressure to win a hockey game, they can come through with flying colors.
Across the river, the New Jersey Devils just shocked the No. 5 seed Philadelphia Flyers by beating the Broadstreet Bullies in just five games. The Devils’ defense was tremendous in shutting down one of the top offenses in the league and are now in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 2003 season when they won the Cup.
There are a lot of intriguing stories when it comes to this match-up. For starters, you will have the battle of the netminders between Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Devils’ future hall of famer Martin Brodeur.
There is no doubt that Lundqvist has gotten the better of Brodeur in their seven seasons of playing against each other but since this is the postseason, none of that matters. Brodeur has had a lot more playoff success than the “King” but Lundqvist is just starting to really build his playoff resume.
Another story is the playoff rivalry that these two clubs have. Both clubs met each other in the postseason in 1992 (Rangers won 4-3), 1994 (Rangers won 4-3), 1997 (Rangers won 4-1), 2006 (Devils won 4-0) and 2008 (Rangers won 4-1).
All of the games between these two rivals in the playoffs have been hard fought with great saves, timely goals, big hits, taunting from fans and much more. It is an NHL rivalry at its best during hockey’s biggest time of the year.
A new chapter begins tonight with both teams playing for a chance to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final, where they will either meet the Los Angeles Kings or Phoenix Coyotes.
It should be a dandy, folks.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.