Things can change quickly in the playoffs. Rangers crossed the Hackensack River in glory last week after two spectacular 5-1 wins over the Devils in Newark, NJ.

We wondered if the inexperience in the playoffs of the young wolves of the Devils, apart from Dougie Hamilton, Tomas Tatar, Ondrej Palat and Timo Meier, was not sinking them, despite their third place in the general classification.

The Devils’ number one goaltender, Vitek Vanecek, despite having a splendid regular season, has not been immune to criticism.

In the other camp, we obviously praised the new acquisitions, Patrick Kane, four points in these two games, and Vladimir Tarasenko, two goals in as many games.

In short, the elimination of the Devils seemed certain and we were nevertheless going to talk about a season filled with success after this jump of 25 places in the general classification.

In an almost desperate move, coach Lindy Ruff gave the net to 22-year-old Swiss rookie Akira Schmid, tossed between the American League and NHL this winter, in the effervescent Madison Square Goalie in Game 4. What did he have to lose?

The Devils’ survival hung by a thread in Game 3 on Sunday, but Hamilton’s overtime goal brought new life, and confidence, to this young team.

Here we are a few days later, the Devils crossed the Hackensack again, this time to a 2-2 tie, and Rangers fans were anxiously awaiting head coach Gerard Gallant’s line combinations on Wednesday morning.

After allowing ten goals to the Rangers at home, the Devils allowed only two to their opponents in the Big Apple.

It’s not so much the brilliance of Schmid – solid, it must nevertheless be admitted – but the lack of competitiveness of the Rangers that we have been talking about for a few days. Gallant even dared to call some of his wingers lazy after Game 4.

Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad have still not scored in four games, some colleagues remind, even if we emphasize the defensive contribution of the second. Tarasenko has been cleared in the last two meetings.

Will Gallant stick with his line changes? In training the day before, he switched centers. Zibanejad ended up with Panarin and Tarasenko and Trocheck with Chris Kreider and Kane.

The Rangers coach adopted a less acerbic tone on Tuesday. “We’ve played a good nine and a half periods (out of 12) since the start of the series,” he told reporters. Our trio of youngsters (the Kid Line, made up of Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko) played well, our goalkeeper too, but we need better production from our top six. »

Rangers probably took things for granted after two games. They are human, after all. Hence the reversals of situation as numerous as they are sudden in the series, and the very daring premature verdicts.

The fifth game will take place on Thursday. Whoever wins this series, this rivalry is only just beginning to rekindle with such a young core on both sides…

Two Canadiens prospects, Joshua Roy and Riley Kidney, participate in the quadrangle of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, with Sherbrooke and Gatineau respectively.

Sherbrooke has just eliminated Drummondville in four games and will face Halifax. Gatineau also defeated Rouyn-Noranda in four consecutive games and will face the Quebec Remparts.

After a season of 99 points in 55 regular season games, and a brilliant world junior championship, Roy, 19, a fifth-round pick in 2021, has amassed 21 points, including ten goals, in just eight playoff games.

Kidney, a 2021 second-round pick, has 18 points, including four goals, in nine games for the Olympiques. They will face Quebec, Zachary Bolduc and Nathan Gaucher in the lead, both first-round picks.

Sherbrooke’s opponents, Halifax, have the gifted Jordan Dumais, drafted in the third round only in 2022 by the Blue Jackets, but with an extraordinary season of 140 points, including 54 goals, in only 64 games.

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