NHL Playoff Preview and Odds: NY Rangers and NJ Devils Square Off in First Round

SBNY » NHL Playoff Preview and Odds: NY Rangers and NJ Devils Square Off in First Round

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are here! If you’re a New York Rangers fan, it’s time to party like it’s 1994. if you’re a New Jersey Devils fan, you’re looking back fondly on 2012. Now, the Rangers and Devils are meeting in the first round of the playoffs and are fairly evenly matched in the odds.

Adding a New Chapter to a Storied Rivalry

This is the seventh time the rivals bordered by the Hudson River will be playing in a Stanley Cup Playoff series. The Rangers lead the overall series matchups, 4-2. In the most notable meetings, the Rangers won the 1994 Eastern Conference Final in seven games, and the Devils got revenge in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final with a 4-2 series win. Both teams got overtime goals to advance to that year’s Stanley Cup Final.

This year’s series will be the meeting since Adam Henrique put in the game winner 11 years ago.

1992 First RoundRangers, 4-3
1994 Eastern Conference FinalRangers, 4-3
1997 Eastern Conference SemifinalsRangers, 4-1
2006 First RoundDevils, 4-0
2008 First RoundRangers, 4-1
2012 Eastern Conference FinalDevils, 4-2

While the Devils hope for more magic like Henrique provided, the Rangers will be channeling their inner Stephan Matteau when the series begins Tuesday night.

2023 Playoff: Devils’ Youth & Speed vs. Rangers’ Size & Goaltending

We’ve seen teams like the 2023 New Jersey Devils before. Typically, they will be a year or two ahead of their projections while building a club but then flame out in the playoffs. Playoff hockey is at a higher level of intensity, which the Rangers experienced last year.

To counteract the first playoff series for the Devils’ Jack Hughes and others, they can lean on veteran Ondrej Palat, who played in the last three Stanley Cup Finals with Tampa Bay. Head coach Lindy Ruff also has plenty of playoff experience, leading Buffalo to deep playoff runs in the past.

The Rangers made big moves at the trade deadline, including acquiring Patrick Kane, who won three Stanley Cups with Chicago. Last year, the Rangers’ “kid” line of Alexis Lafreniera, Filip Chytil, and Kappo Kakko accounted for 10 goals and a +5 differential in the postseason and were especially key to coming back from down 3-1 and winning the first round series against Pittsburgh.

In goal, Igor Shesterkin will hope to do what Mike Richter was able to do and Henrik Lundquist was unable to do in New York–win a Stanley Cup. Shesterkin enters his second playoff after finishing 10th in save percentage this season at 0.916. New Jersey’s Vitek Vanecek had a 0.911 save percentage. He played in two games of Washington’s playoff series against Florida last year, posting a 0.855 save percentage. Meanwhile, Shesterkin’s playoff save percentage last year was 0.929.

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Rangers vs. Devils Playoff Odds Breakdown: Full-Strength vs. Power Play

The Devils have the edge offensively, especially in 5-on-5. New Jersey averaged 2.94 goals per game compared to New York’s 2.70. However, there’s a bigger gap in the expected goals statistic. The Devils lead in that stat, 3.01 to 2.47, so they should score more than a half goal per game more than the Rangers.

On the power play, however, the Rangers’ expected goal rate is 10.1 compared to 8.9 for New Jersey. The Rangers also have a better defensive rating (+34 to +20) and have been better on the penalty kill.

One key stat to look at with the goaltenders is that in the regular-season series, Shesterkin allowed an avearge of 3.23 goals per game compared to just 2.70 for Vanecek. Here are the results of those games.

Nov. 28, 2022Devils at RangersNJ, 5-3
Dec. 12, 2022Devils at RangersNYR, 4-3 (OT)
Jan. 7, 2023Rangers at DevilsNJ, 4-3 (OT)
March 30, 2023Rangers at DevilsNJ, 2-1

Rangers and Devils Playoff Odds and Prediction

There are two intangibles that could be a factor in this series that don’t show up on the stat sheet: size and experience. If the Rangers can use their size to their advantage, it could wear the Devils down over the course of a seven-game series. Playoff experience also favors the Rangers.

For the Devils, the team plays fast and can score goals in bunches. If they can maintain that style of play, it could be difficult for the Rangers to come back. High-scoring games would favor New Jersey.

Here are the series odds, courtesy of FanDuel.

New Jersey Devils-128
New York Rangers+106

In a series that is likely to come down to intangibles, the Devils’ better record during the regular season and securing home ice advantage in this round is likely what has led to New Jersey being a narrow favorite. We’re leaning toward the quicker Devils to score enough to win this series in seven games (Devils Win 4-3, +420 ; Series Goes 7 Games, +194).

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