Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devils Look to Avoid Rangers Sweep

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devils Look to Avoid Rangers Sweep

Article excerpt

NEWARK -- The Rangers will be experiencing the real thing in about three weeks. For the Devils, though, the expected intensity of their latest game against their Hudson River rivals will have to suffice for playoff atmosphere.

The Metropolitan Division foes meet for the fourth and final time on Tuesday night at Prudential Center with the Devils looking to avoid being swept in the season series for the second time in three seasons.

"It feels like a playoff game every time we play them," Devils captain Andy Greene said.

The veteran defenseman has seen some epic battles between the teams in his 11 seasons. In no particular order: the 2012 Eastern Conference final the Devils won in six games, the line brawl that opened their game at Madison Square Garden on March 19, 2012, and Rangers agitator Sean Avery waving his stick in goalie Martin Brodeur's face and later calling the Devils' icon "Fatso" during their 2008 playoff series.

But while the Rangers are playoff-bound for the seventh straight season, and likely locked into the Eastern Conference's first wild-card spot, meaning they'll cross over to the Atlantic Division bracket, the conference-worst Devils will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season since losing the 2012 Stanley Cup Final to the Kings in six games.

As such, this last stretch of the season is all about evaluation for the Devils' brass, testing players in different roles, gauging their responses under varied scenarios and judging who can help the rebuilding organization moving forward.

So there is certainly value to seeing how some of their younger talent responds to such a heated rivalry.

"You want to get that big-game experience and deal with the emotions and keep them in check and make sure we play the right way," Greene said. "It's intense. It's always a fun game to play."

"It's always a big game when we play them," goalie Cory Schneider added. "We've got to fight here and play for some pride. Beating them would feel pretty good at the end of the year. We haven't had a lot of reasons to feel good about things. It's on us. We've just got to keep sticking with it and finding ways to win games here."

The Devils' roster is stocked with players who have either spent significant time with Albany (AHL) this season or will likely participate in the AHL playoffs once the Devils' season concludes on April 9 at Detroit. …

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