Rangers-Devils series living up to billing

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The Eastern Conference Finals between the New Jersey Devils and rival New York Rangers are turning out to be exactly what everyone thought.

New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov (front) collides with New York's Ryan Callahan in Game 2. The series, tied 1-1, has featured tight checking and hard hitting.  JULIO CORTEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JULIO CORTEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS
New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov (front) collides with New York's Ryan Callahan in Game 2. The series, tied 1-1, has featured tight checking and hard hitting.

Hard hitting. Tight checking. Low scoring.

Indeed, as it’s played under the microscope of the New York metropolitan area media, this has been hockey with an edge ... but not so edgy as to cross the line.

The two games at Madison Square Garden were similar. They were tied after two periods, and decided in the third. The Rangers won the first with three goals in the last period and the Devils took the second, 3-2, on Wednesday night on a great deflection by David Clarkson.

The best-of-7 series for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Finals now moves to the Prudential Center in New Jersey for games on Saturday afternoon and Monday night.

“I think it’s everything that we were anticipating really from the hockey standpoint,” Devils captain Zach Parise said Thursday. “We expected tight games. We expected not a lot of room out there from either team, and games down to the wire.”

Rangers coach John Tortorella was a little more talkative on Thursday after saying very little in the wake of Game 2. In that defeat, his team allowed a game-tying goal late in the second period and then lost on Clarkson’s tally in the third.

When asked if there were any positives to carry into Game 3, he said there weren’t many.

“I thought we played some minutes in the second period, found a way to score some power-play goals; but other than that, we didn’t play enough minutes,” said Tortorella, who refused to say much about his decision to bench leading scorer Marian Gaborik for almost 12 minutes in a span covering the end of the second period and the start of the third.

Gaborik was on the ice when Ryan Carter scored to tie the game at 2-all. After the game, he said he didn’t clear the puck out of his own end.

“You guys like calling them benchings and all that stuff, but as coaches we’re trying to find a way to win a hockey game,” Tortorella said, “and we make decisions accordingly.”

OILERS: Are searching for a new coach after deciding to let Tom Renney go following two seasons.

The team announced on its Twitter feed Thursday that it decided not to renew Renney’s contract.

Renney joined the team for the 2010-11 season and finished with an NHL-worst 25-45-12 record. The team improved to 32-40-10 this season.


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