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Rangers vs Devils - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Richards, Kreider get their first tastes of New York

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York City and the National Hockey League both come with their own pressures and expectations that make playing this game and surviving in this profession incredibly hard and incredibly gratifying all at the same time.

Veteran center Brad Richards and rookie winger Chris Kreider, two of the most important figures in the New York Rangers' future plans of winning a Stanley Cup, now each have their own unique tastes of what the Big Apple and the NHL are like together. Both the 31-year-old Richards and the 20-year-old Kreider should be better for it heading into the summer and eventually the 2012-13 season.

"It's a different animal here," Rangers coach John Tortorella said, referring to New York City.

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Offense, depth big reasons for Rangers' downfall

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The expectations at the start of the 2011-12 regular season for the New York Rangers were tepid at best. They were coming off a first-round exit and a complete whiff of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the previous two seasons, and top defenseman Marc Staal was out indefinitely with a concussion.

Seven months later, the youthful Rangers were Eastern Conference champions and appeared at times to be a team of destiny during the playoffs. They rallied from a 3-2 series deficit in the first round, came back to win Game 5 in the second round against the Capitals with a goal by Brad Richards in the final seconds of regulation and a goal from Staal in overtime, then watched goaltender Henrik Lundqvist steal two of the first three games of the conference finals against the Devils.

In the end, the Rangers simply ran out of gas, losing in six games to the Devils to end one of the more surprising seasons in recent years.

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At 40, Brodeur has Devils back in the Final

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- He was 22 years old when he reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time; 23 when he won the Stanley Cup for the first time.

Martin Brodeur is 40 now. No, seriously, he's 40.

Martin Brodeur
Goalie - NJD
RECORD: 12-5-1
GAA: 2.04 | SVP: 0.923
"It's amazing," Devils forward Patrik Elias said.

Seventeen years after winning his first championship, Brodeur is going back to the big show in search of his fourth. He made 33 saves Friday night to lift the Devils to a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, putting New Jersey into the Final against the Los Angeles Kings.

Brodeur has won the Stanley Cup three times since losing to the Rangers in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals -- setting 18 NHL records, including most wins, shutouts, games played and minutes played, along the way. But at 40 years old, getting the Devils to the Final with 12 wins, a .923 save percentage and 2.04 goals-against average should at least move into a high position on his list of his greatest achievements.

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OT winner another rookie-year highlight for Henrique

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Adam Henrique may or may not win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. That won't be known for several weeks, until the League holds its annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas, and it's something beyond his power anyway.

Adam Henrique
Center - NJD
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 11
SOG: 31 | +/-: 9
After Friday night, though, the New Jersey Devils center is just four wins away from etching his name on an even bigger piece of hardware: the Stanley Cup -- and he has his own heroics in large part to thank.

Henrique found himself in the right spot at the right time during a goalmouth scramble in the early stages of overtime and swiped home the goal that gave the Devils a 3-2 win against the New York Rangers, making them Eastern Conference champions for the first time in nine years.

"Johnny-on-the-spot on that one," said Henrique, whose goal at 1:03 of the extra period came after Alexei Ponikarovsky threw the puck at the net from along the boards. Ilya Kovalchuk had a few cracks at the puck as goalie Henrik Lundqvist and several Rangers tried to get it out of the crease; instead, the puck trickled through for Henrique to push it across the goal line and send Prudential Center into bedlam.

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Callahan steps up for Rangers

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ryan Callahan had one goal in a span of 12 games over the first three rounds of the postseason, but the Rangers' captain stepped up when his club needed him most.

Ryan Callahan
Right Wing - NYR
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 10
SOG: 53 | +/-: 2
Callahan scored three goals in the final four games of the Eastern Conference Finals, including the game-tying goal in Game 6 on Friday night, but it wasn't enough as the Devils emerged with a 3-2 overtime victory to win the series and clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

Callahan was dangerous throughout Game 6 -- he had four shots on goal and seven attempts in all. There was some speculation that he was playing with a hand injury he suffered during the first round against the Senators, but he didn't confirm that after losing Friday.

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Disappointed Rangers look toward bright future

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The immediate future of the New York Rangers will be one filled with angst and regret after having their season end Friday night at the hands of the New Jersey Devils. But way beyond the horizon, things look pretty hopeful to coach John Tortorella.

"I love our jam," Tortorella said. "I love our [intestinal fortitude]. I really like what we have here."

The Rangers entered the 2011-12 season as a young team that was lacking in both experience and success. In Tortorella's first two seasons with the club, the Rangers missed the playoffs in 2010 and backed into the postseason last year only to lose in five games in the first round.

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Rangers see their season slip away in OT

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- For the final 40 minutes of regulation and the first 45 seconds of overtime, the New York Rangers imposed their will on the New Jersey Devils. The Rangers erased an early two-goal deficit in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals and looked destined to force their third Game 7 of the postseason.

But the Rangers, who finished atop the conference in the regular season and staved off elimination three times in the playoffs by showing incredible resiliency, succumbed to the tenacity of the Devils. Adam Henrique finished off the Rangers by scoring off a mad scramble around the net of Henrik Lundqvist 1:03 into overtime to give the Devils a 3-2 win and their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 2003.

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Three keys for Devils, Rangers to unlock Game 6

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Los Angeles Kings are waiting. Will they know their opponent Friday night?
 
The New Jersey Devils need one win to clinch their fifth trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1995. The Devils have a chance to do it in Game 6 on their home ice against their cross-river rivals.
 
If the three Stanley Cup championships haven't been enough, a win at Prudential Center over the New York Rangers on Friday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) will erase some of the demons that still exist from the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, when Mark Messier made good on his pre-Game 6 guarantee and Stephane Matteau stuck a dagger in the Devils with his double-OT winner in Game 7.
 
That series 18 years ago between the Devils and Rangers has absolutely nothing to do with this series between the Devils and Rangers, but the similarities exist even down to the exact day of Game 6.

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Rangers believe Game 5 success can carry to Game 6

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- As composite sticks tend to do, Anton Stralman's snapped in half during the Rangers' morning skate Friday. Instead of sulking and returning to the bench for a new stick, Stralman took the bottom half of the stick and flipped a fluttering one-timer toward the net.

It provided a hearty laugh for everyone lucky enough to witness it and perhaps a moment of levity before the Rangers look to avoid elimination against the Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday night at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"I think we're trying to look at it right now that this is a great opportunity, not a situation filled with a lot of pressure," Stralman said. "We're looking forward to it and feeling good about our last game even though we didn't get the win. I think we got back to the way we need to play and that's what we're going to do tonight."

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Lundqvist not putting any extra pressure on himself

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist hasn't been at his best in his last two games. Coach John Tortorella fully expects that to change when the Rangers look to fight off elimination for the fourth time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We love having him and we're going to need him to make some big saves here in the next game. When he's on his game, it makes everybody else pick up their game. It's great to have that."
-- Ryan McDonagh

"He'll play his best game [Friday]," Tortorella said.

The Devils hold a 3-2 lead on the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, with Game 6 set for Friday at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). After posting shutouts in two of the first three games of the series, Lundqvist has allowed seven goals on 45 shots in two consecutive losses that have pushed the Rangers to the brink.

Lundqvist has been operating with the slimmest margin for error among any goaltender during the postseason. He is 10-9 during the playoffs, but when he allows at least three goals, he is 0-7. The Rangers' 5-3 loss in Game 5 on Monday marked the first time he allowed more than three goals during the playoffs.

Following practice Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, Lundqvist talked about the notion of putting more pressure on himself to play better in Game 6.

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory