Well Boston sent a message this afternoon dropping the Devils to 5 points back in the race for top slot on the Eastern Conference 4-1 in Beantown. The Devils had their shots, 42 in fact, but many were from the outside of the faceoff dot and not the high quality scoring zones the Devils have been scoring from. The Devils also made an uncharacteristic mistake in the first period taking a too many men on the ice penalty which led to Boston's first goal on the powerplay. At that point the Devils were playing from behind which plays to the Bruins confidence level and allows them to play a bigger, tougher style they enjoy. The race in the east isn't over but it's looking like a #2 or #3 seed for New Jersey. To that end Johnny would say the Devils are for more likely to be a successful road team in the playoffs than Boston. A team MUST be able to win on the road come playoff time? Want proof? Last season Detroit on their way to Stanley Cup glory won 1 game at Nashville, 2 at Colorado in sweeping the Nordilanche, 2 more in Dallas in the Western Conference Finals and 2 in Pittsburgh in the Finals. The Devils will be a far better road team is Johnny's guess than the Bruins will.
Now, across the Hudson, the Rangers are playing with fire, and confidence as they make a late season push to secure a playoff spot. Since they changed coaches to John Tortorella, the Rangers are giving effort, effort that wasn't there before. The trading deadline provided some more depth but the real story at MSG is the fact supposed team leaders like Chris Drury, Markus Naslund and Scott Gomez have improved their games under Tortorella. Johnny thinks indeed the Rangers will make the playoffs, it may be as a #6, #7 or #8 seed but they'll get in. We'd hope for a first round matchup against New Jersey of course, one the Devils would win. The difference? The Rangers defense corps isn't scaring anyone or fooling Johnny.
Flying under the radar this time of year lost in NCAA tournament madness is the NCAA college hockey tourney, a true gem in the world of college sports. The seedings and brackets were announced today (click the image for a bigger bracket)