|First meeting||October 5, 1982|
|Latest meeting||February 23, 2016|
|All-time series||121-110-27-8 (NJ)|
|Regular season series||103-94-27-8 (NJ)|
|Postseason results||18-16 (NYR)|
Early history Edit
The rivalry began when Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey to become Devils. For the relocation, they were required to pay massive indemnities to Rangers, Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, geographically-proximate teams, for the right to share New Jersey market. For over 25 years, fans of both the Rangers and Devils have seen the best out of both their clubs whenever they meet. Despite the Devils' overall Stanley Cup playoff superiority since the 1990s, the first 3 playoff series between these teams were all Rangers victories. Their 1st meeting occurred in the spring of 1992, when the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers survived a 7 game Patrick Division Semifinal series with Devils.
Stanley Cup Championships of 1994 and 1995 Edit
The rivalry's most famous moments, however, are centered around the significance of the teams' meetings during the 1995-96 season and goaltenders Mike Richter and Martin Brodeur.
1994: Rangers Win Stanley Cup Edit
Although both teams were the top point-getters in the NHL during the Rangers' championship season of 1993–94 (the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers netting 112 and Devils notching 106), the story entering the Eastern Conference Finals was the Rangers 6–0 record against New Jersey that regular season. In the final weeks of the regular season, the Devils were chasing the Rangers for the best record in the NHL. In response, the New York news media pushed Rangers Head Coach Mike Keenan to push the Rangers to winning the Presidents' Trophy as the League's top regular season team. Keenan replied, "I want to play Game 7 of Stanley Cup Finals in Madison Square Garden." Rangers reached Conference Finals with relative ease by sweeping Islanders, and beating the Washington Capitals in 5 games. In comparison, Devils' road was much harder, as they needed all 7 games to oust Buffalo Sabres in the first round and needed 6 games to eliminate Boston Bruins in 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
However, all ideas of a quick Rangers series were soon ended after Game 1, a 4-3 double overtime victory that was sealed by Devils' Stephane Richer. Rangers responded by routing Devils 4-0 in Game 2, and used a double overtime goal by Stephane Automate to take a 2-1 lead after Game 3. After losing Games 4 and 5, Rangers faced elimination in New Jersey for Game 6, with Devils attempting to make the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. Prior to the game, Rangers captain Mark Messier guaranteed a victory in Game 6 at the Meadowlands; with Rangers down 2–0 to Devils, Messier scored a hat-trick to tie the series at 3-3 and send it back to New York for the deciding Game 7. In Game 7, Devils' Valeri Zelepukin tied the game with 7.7 seconds left in regulation, but Stephane Matteau scored another goal in double overtime to win the game and series for Rangers and ultimately went on to win Stanley Cup over Vancouver Canucks, also in 7 games. Interestingly, the first 6 games were won by the team that lost that respective game in 1992. That trend, however, was reversed when Rangers won Game 7 in 1994.
1995: Devils Win Stanley Cup Edit
The Devils recovered from the crushing defeat to the Rangers in 1994 to win the Stanley Cup the following year in a shocking and improbable sweep of Detroit Red Wings, though they had to go through another of their own rivals (also a great rival of Rangers) in 1995 Eastern Conference Finals, Philadelphia Flyers, who had eliminated Rangers in the second round, making the rivalry during the 1995–96 season showdowns between the Stanley Cup champions of the previous 2 seasons.
When both teams won the Stanley Cup in their respective seasons, the Stanley Cup was awarded on their side of the Hudson River (Rangers won at Madison Square Garden in 1994, Devils at the Meadowlands in 1995). The Devils did not have home ice advantage during their Finals. In fact, Devils were the first team to win the Stanley Cup without having home ice advantage in any of the 4 rounds of the playoffs.
1997 Eastern Conference Finals Edit
The 3rd Rangers-Devils playoff series occurred just 3 years later. Rangers, led by Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Brian Leetch, and Mike Richter, eliminated Devils in the 1997 Eastern Conference Semifinals, winning 4 games in a row after losing Game 1. New Jersey was limited to just 5 goals in 5 game series, including two shutout losses.
From the start of 1998, however, rivalry momentum began to shift in favor of Devils. New Jersey dominated New York Rangers during the regular season in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At one point, Devils had an unbeaten streak against Rangers throughout 23 regular season games going 15–0–8, starting on February 17, 1997, and ending March 31, 2001, an undefeated streak spanning 4 years.
At the end of the 2005–06, Devils had won 11 games straight — the 2nd such streak of the season and capped off the run by winning Atlantic Division in comeback fashion against the Montreal Canadiens, a division win made all the more exciting by the fact that the Devils had been 22 points out of the lead just three months prior, with many thinking the team wouldn't make the 2006 playoffs. Meanwhile, the Rangers had the division lead for most of the latter part of the season, but fell victim to a losing skid as the season came to a close. Devils took Atlantic Division title away from Rangers by ending the season with 1 point than New York Rangers. As fate would have it, Devils met Rangers in their fourth playoff meeting in 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The result was a 4 game sweep by New Jersey over their cross-river rivals for the first time ever in franchise history.
2 years later, the teams would meet yet again in the playoffs for the 5th time, in 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. After long-time Devils Scott Gomez signed as a free agent with Rangers prior to the 2007-08 season, he has been severely booed by Devils fans at the Prudential Center every time he touched the puck. Gomez responded by scoring 3 assists in Game 1 and two goals in Game 4 against his former team en route to a Rangers series win. In Game 3, Rangers Sean Avery used a tactic to screen opposing goaltender Martin Brodeur. While essentially ignoring the play on the ice when his team had a two-man advantage, Avery faced Brodeur and waved his hands and stick in front of him in an attempt to distract him and block his view. Although not illegal, many NHL commentators and players described Avery's actions as inappropriate. The following day, the NHL issued an interpretation of the league's unsportsmanlike conduct rule to cover actions such as the one employed by Avery. Following Rangers victory in Game 5 of the series during the hand-shake line, Brodeur shook the hand of every Ranger except Avery. When asked what happened after the game, Avery said, "Well, everyone talks about how classy or un-classy I am, and [Brodeur] there just forgot to shake my hand I guess. . . We outplayed him. I outplayed him. We’re going to Second Round." That year in the regular season, Avery slid into Brodeur. Brodeur retaliated by shoving Avery, who shoved back and a brawl occurred.
During the 2009–10 season, there was a moment of peace in the rivalry with both captains, Rangers' Chris Drury and Devils' Jamie Langenbrunner, winning silver medals as members the Team USA during the Vancouver Olympics. However, the rivalry was revived because both head coaches, the Rangers' John Tortorella and the Devils' Jacques Lemaire, were on different team's benches — Tortorella was an assistant coach for the Americans, while Lemaire was with Team Canada, which ultimately took home gold over the U.S.
Rangers won 4 of 6 meetings against Devils in 2010–11 season, and won the last meeting of the season to make the playoffs. Hours after Rangers beat Devils 5-2 in their last game of the regular season on April 9, Tampa Bay Lightning beat Carolina Hurricanes 6-2 to help the Rangers reach the 2011 playoffs. Both teams were in opposite directions during the season. Rangers finished 44-33-5, while Devils finished the season under .500 for the first time since the 1990-91 season, with a record of 38-39-5.
2012 Eastern Conference Final "The Rematch" Edit
The Rangers–Devils series debuted at its latest date since Devils moved to New Jersey in 1982 during the 2011–12 season. For the previous six seasons, the teams had met at least once in October. In 2 of 3 meetings of the teams, there have been fights to start the game, which included the third game of the year, were two fights immediately broke-out after the first face-off. Also in the third game, there was a controversial call that negated a goal by the Rangers' Derek Stepan due to alleged goaltender interference by Marian Gaborik. Some argue that Gaborik was pushed into the goalie, Brodeur, by ex-Devil Anton Volchenkov, while others argue that the forward did not make an effort to avoid the goaltender, therefore legitimizing the penalty.
The Devils and Rangers met for their final contest of the season on March 19, 2012, at Madison Square Garden. Continuing the trend established in prior games, the game began with 3 simultaneous fights, and Rangers went on to win the game, 4-2. With Devils defeating rival Philadelphia in 5 games, and Rangers defeating Washington in 7, the stage had been set for a rematch of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals between the two in the Eastern Conference Finals. With the exception of Games 1 and 2, the remainder of the series was played on the 18th anniversary of each game of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals series between the two, and the pattern of wins from Games 3-5 were identical to 1994. The pattern was broken when Devils won Game 6, against Rangers 3–2, in overtime on Adam Henrique's game-winner, securing Devils' first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since their championship season of 2003. However, Devils would eventually lose the Cup in 6 games to Los Angeles Kings.
The 2012–13 season began with a labor lockout due to the CBA's expiration, with the players and owners struggling to agree on new terms. Although NHL All-Star Game, Winter Classic and almost half of the regular season was lost due to work stoppage, the parties finally agreed to new terms in early 2013 to begin the season in late January. New Jersey won the first game between the two teams, though the Rangers won the remaining three. Rangers' 4-1 victory on April 21 at home officially ended Devils' hopes to reach the playoffs that season, despite making the Final the previous year.
In the 2013–14 season, the two teams squared off in an outdoor game in Yankee Stadium. After taking a 3–1 lead in the game, Devils eventually imploded and lost 7-3. Throughout the season, New York Rangers won 2 of 5 meetings between them that year, while Devils missed the playoffs a second year in a row, which had not happened since 1987. Rangers, on the other hand, finally made it to the Finals, which they had not done since 1994. However, New York Rangers lost to Los Angeles Kings, who won their second Cup in 3 seasons. Rangers lead playoff games over Devils 18-16, but Devils lead Rangers in regular season 103-94-27-8 and all-time series 119-112-27-8.
Fans on both sides have agreed the rivalry has become even stronger as of late, due in large part to the fact that both teams have shown much more parity towards each other. Many hockey analysts within the media have referred to them as "mirror teams" given their many similarities. Since the 2004–05 NHL lockout, the two teams have met a total of 43 times (as of March 25, 2010), including playoff games with Devils winning 24 and Rangers winning 21.
Many Rangers fans have been seen burning Devils memorabilia after Rangers victories over Devils, and lighting their cigarettes with it, while exiting Madison Square Garden. Devils fans, meanwhile, enjoy making confetti which reads "Rangers Suck" and handing them out during games formerly at the Continental Airlines Arena and currently at the Prudential Center. after Devils victories over Rangers.
The Rangers–Devils rivalry is popular among fans due to its geographic proximity, which is seen as a battle between the neighboring states of New York and New Jersey. Travel ease allows fans to typically follow their respective team across the Hudson to view away games. Fans of both teams have also shown considerable hostility towards each other's goaltender. Rangers fans have often battered Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur with sarcastic chants of "Marty! Marty! Marty!" after Rangers scored on him during games between the two teams. Conversely, Devils fans will chant "Henrik! Henrik! Henrik!" at Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist after Devils score on him.
Recently, there have been parting shots taken by players and media at each organization through written words. In Beyond the Crease, an autobiography written by Martin Brodeur, he writes, "I hate Rangers, and Lou hates them to death." During their last playoff meet, actor/director Kevin Smith was asked to have a blog commenting on the series, which could be read on the NHL's official website.