If you fancy yourself a betting man stay far, far away from the Metropolitan Division.
Just 10 points separates the Division-leading Capitals from the cellar-dweller Hurricanes.
Meanwhile, the Devils and Rangers are separated by two measly points; the difference between second place and the first Wild Card.
When these teams faced off on December 9th — at Madison Square Garden — the Blueshirts won 5-2; evening the season-series at a game apiece.
New Jersey is looking for revenge and you can bet that the only predictable thing about this game will be its’ unpredictable nature.
The 7th Avenue Skaters are riding a modest three-game win-streak heading into the match up with their Garden State rivals. And the Rangers need every win — and point — they can get.
DEEP ROOTED CONNECTIONS
Defenseman John Moore played three seasons for the Blueshirts (2012-13 – 2014-15).
Center Brian Boyle spent five seasons in New York (2009-10 – 2013-14). He also helped the team advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14.
Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Hayes are brothers and have moved their sibling rivalry from New York-Boston to New York-New Jersey. And since they broke into the league, the Blueshirts have won eight of 10 matchups.
Ryan McDonagh: The Rangers’ captain is three games away from his 500th career NHL contest.
Mats Zuccarello: Arguably the best playmaker on the Blueshirts, Zuccarello is four assists away from 200 in his career.
PLAYER TO WATCH
DEVILS: NICO HISCHIER. Looks like somebody is hitting the proverbial “rookie wall.” The Devils’ first-round (first overall) draft choice back in June has gone six games without a point. Furthermore, he has just two assists in nine games during the month of December. Hischier is too good to remain quiet for long. Expect him to get off the schneid soon rather than later.
RANGERS: DAVID DESHARNAIS. The diminutive center has quietly put together his best season since his 2014-15 campaign. Primarily a fourth-liner at this stage of his career, Desharnais filled in admirably on the top-line while Mika Zibanejad was out with a concussion. With Zibanejad back, Desharnais slid back down the depth chart and promptly delivered a two-assist night against the Ducks. He has four points in his last five games so it’s best the Rangers ride him while he’s hot.
Nothing to see here.
Alain Vigneault hates changing the lineup after a win — or three — so expect same lines and pairings as the other night against Anaheim. And as always Henrik Lundqvist is slated to start.
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on MSG Networks at 7pm ET. For in-game coverage check out our Twitter account @NYRBlueBulletin.
A couple weeks ago Head Coach Alain Vigneault told the New York media about a brief conversation he had with G.M. Jeff Gorton and Team President Glen Sather.
He said: “I told Sather and Jeff that you can no longer win the division in November or December like they used to when Glen was a coach (chuckles). Nowadays it comes down to the final week, or even the final day.”
Try as you might, you won’t find a more accurate statement about this year’s Metropolitan Division than that.