TARRYTOWN, N.Y. The New York Rangers, who are based at their Tarrytown practice facility, will host the New Jersey Devils beginning Monday in the opening game of the NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference best-of-seven final playoffs at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers, the No. 1 seed on the Eastern Division, reached the Stanley Cup semifinal round with back-to-back hard fought seven-game series wins over the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals. The locals will face their longtime Atlantic Division and New York area rival Devils, who were seeded No. 6 in the Eastern Division. New Jersey upset No. 3 Florida and No. 5 Philadelphia to reach the finals.
The series will revolve around a matchup of goaltenders Hendrik Lundqvist of the Rangers and Martin Brodeur of the Devils and two strong defenses.
The Rangers offense is led by captain Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards and the Devils feature captain Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias.
Hastings resident Eric Shea, a former high school varsity football player who is stationed in New Jersey with the U.S. Air Force, is a longtime Rangers booster.
"The Rangers No. 1 line of Richards, Gaborik and Hagelin are working together better than they have all season and bringing some much needed offense," Shea said. "Lundqvist has been outstanding, proving why he is the Vezina NHL's best goalie award front runner every single game. With momentum from their Game 7 win, I predict the Rangers roll over the Devils in five games."
Pelham High School hockey coach Ed Witz sees another close series for the Rangers.
"Rangers in seven," Witz said. "A very close series with the Rangers doing all the little important defensive things to win and they are getting superb goaltending. Brodeur will have his hands full. Goaltending may be the key difference."
Ossining baseball coach Bill Casey is confident the Rangers, who have been a low-scoring team throughout the season and the playoffs, can produce the necessary offense to beat the Devils.
The Rangers in six, Casey said. "I think the Rangers defense has been out of control led by Callahan and King Lundquist and I think it's time for the offense to start clicking. I predict Michael Del Zotto, Chris Krieder and Gaborik are going to have big series on the offensive end, he said.
Kresmir Alilovic, a former high school basketball player at Hastings High School, gives the Rangers the edge in goal.
"I believe that the Rangers will win it in six games," Alilovic said. "It's time for Brodeur to step aside for King Henrik."
Thornwood resident and Westlake High School junior varsity baseball and basketball player Louis Marinelli sees the Rangers moving on the Stanley Cup finals.
Marc Richter of Dobbs Ferry will be at the edge of his seat for what he believes will be another closely played series.
"Rangers in six with the game winning goal coming in overtime by Brian Boyle," Ricther said. "It will be a hard fought physical series but the Rangers will prevail."
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