The Rangers-Devils Eastern Conference final is expected to provide two weeks’ worth of fireworks.
Yesterday, Martin Brodeur fired a subtle shot at his counterpart, Henrik Lundqvist.
“He's kind of the top goalie in the NHL right now. And I think I was in that position once. Played against Patrick [Roy], played against Dominik Hasek. I played against all the guys [in] the top years in their career,” Brodeur said in his media availability following the Devils’ practice in Newark. “It's kind of nice to be able to compete against them, regardless of what's going to happen. I'll do my best to try to match up, but it's going to be pretty hard. He's a pretty good goalie.”
Lundqvist is a finalist for the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award for Most Valuable Player, and the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s best goaltender following a season in which he went 39-18-5 with a .930 save percentage and eight shutouts.
The 40-year old Brodeur compiled a 31-21-4 record this season with a 2.41 goals against average, .908 save percentage and three shutouts. Brodeur is the NHL’s all-time leader in wins (656) and shutouts (119).
“I don't want to put words into Hank’s mouth,” Ryan Callahan said. “But I've seen him play against Brodeur and against other top goalies. [He] seems to always raise his game and play against other good goalies in the league.”
Richards still looking ahead
So, Brad Richards, what do you think about the Rangers advancing to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 1997?
“All we have done is get halfway. So a lot of work ahead of us. Really good hockey team ahead of us. Last night's over with. We haven't even talked about that game. We went right to Jersey,” Richards said. “We just played two series. We have to play two more to win it. So, you know, we know how hard and how long it took to do those two. The level is going to go up with these four teams left.
“We're just halfway. We're a young team. We should be excited and energetic going into this. I don't think anybody is going to be tired.”
Dubinsky, Zuccarello still question marks
There was no update on the conditions of Mats Zuccarello and Brandon Dubinsky. Zuccarello suffered a broken wrist in the Rangers’ 4-1 Garden loss to the Sabres on March 23 while Dubinsky suffered an undisclosed injury to his right foot during the first-round win over Ottawa.
Both players were at the practice facility. Zuccarello wore the orange, non-contact jersey during a brief scrimmage while Dubinsky was in street clothes.
Dubinsky deflected a question about his status. His foot was in an air cast when he walked into the dressing room.
“No, I can’t say,” Dubinsky said, before joking, “I’ve been trained…the right way.”
He did say that he was “trying to get better, to get back in the lineup.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman throughout the playoffs.