Playoff predictions - Eastern Conference, 2nd Add

No. 4 New Jersey Devils (46-29-7, 99 points) vs. No. 5 New York Rangers (42-27-13, 97 points)

OVERVIEW: With Martin Brodeur in goal for New Jersey being opposed by New York’s Henrik Lundqvist in a series that could easily go the distance, would anyone be surprised to see seven 1-0 games?

“It’s not going to be easy for anybody,” Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr said. “Every game we played it was pretty tight. Most of the games were decided by one goal or went to overtime. I don’t expect anything else in the playoffs.”

This will be the only series of the eight where both goaltenders are the stars, and with good reason.

Start with Brodeur. He finished with 44 wins this season, the seventh time he’s reached 40, to move closer to Patrick Roy’s all-time mark of 551. Brodeur, though, had only four shutouts – his lowest total since 2001-02.

The team that gave him the most difficulty was the Rangers. Coming into this season, he was 38-15-1 with 15 ties, seven shutouts and a 2.07 goals-against average. This campaign: a 1.96 GAA versus New York, but a 1-4-3 record.

While he’s been the best goaltender in the New York metropolitan area for many years, Lundqvist was better this season, going 7-0-1 with a 1.09 goals-against average and two of his league-best 10 shutouts this season against the Devils.

To put it in better perspective, Lundqvist gave up nine goals in just under 494 minutes against New Jersey.

The goaltenders are the stars because neither offense is overpowering. New Jersey’s 206 goals scored were the fewest by an Eastern Conference playoff team while New York had the third-fewest with 213, one more than Boston.

Zach Parise completed his third season with the Devils by leading them with 32 goals and 65 points. Former teammate Scott Gomez finished his first season in New York with a team-best 54 assists and his 70 points was one behind Jagr for the team lead.

The last time the teams met in the playoffs was 2006. The Devils swept New York in the first round.

HOW NEW JERSEY CAN WIN: The Devils have long had an anemic offense, and their best hope to win will ride on Patrik Elias, historically one of their best playoff performers.

Elias has 104 points in 121 postseason games with New Jersey, while Jamie Langenbrunner is second among current players with 42 in 54 contests.

Normally a team that relies on defense, the Devils were 12-27-5 this season when scoring two goals or less including 11 shutouts.

HOW NEW YORK CAN WIN: Jagr needs to continue his playoff domination. He’s second among active players with 72 postseason goals and tied with Peter Forsberg for second with 166 points.

He’s struggled against New Jersey in the postseason, though, recording one assist in his last eight games, and nine with nine goals in 28 postseason contests.

Chris Drury had four goals and three assists in a four-game point streak against the Devils, and will be counted on to continue that.

SEASON SERIES: Rangers 7-0-1.

THE PICK: Rangers in 7. The clincher will go at least one overtime.

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