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  • Eastern Conference Notebook: Intensity already picking up Print
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    Written by Denis Gorman   
    Tuesday, 15 May 2012 03:03

    Space was limited for those wishing to score goals on Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist. It opened slightly for the Rangers in the third period but don't expect it to continue over the duration of the Eastern Conference finals.

    Denis GormanGame 1 of the Rangers-Devils series was much the same as the six games the teams played during the regular season.

    Space was nowhere to be found on the Madison Square Garden ice Monday night. Athletes clogged the middle of the ice, forcing shooters to take aim at Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur from the periphery.

    After the Rangers’ 3-0 win in Game 1 Eastern Conference Final, Brad Richards warned not to expect a resurrection of 1980s hockey as the series progresses.

    “It’s going to be a tight series,” Richards said. “You’re in the Eastern Conference Finals. You can’t expect magic [in] the first couple of shifts. Teams are going to play tight and it’ll probably be a lot different [the] next game. Teams felt each other out [and] got a feel of what the pace is going to be.”

    What the Rangers’ top line center expects to remain the same is the intensity level between the two rivals. The Rangers and Devils got after each other throughout the night and the animosity ratcheted as the game progressed.

    “It was there the whole game,” Richards said. “Fans were in it probably a little more. We scored some goals. It’s a different game with the pressure they bring compared to what Washington did. We had to get a handle on that and get a feel for that. We just stayed with it.”

    *****

    Much of the talk before the series was the goaltender showdown between Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur.Martin Brodeur

    Give round one in to Broadway’s King.

    Lundqvist made 21 saves as he recorded his fifth career playoff shutout. He improved to 5-3 in eight playoff games against Brodeur and the Devils.

    “Every time you play against great players, it’s exciting,” Lundqvist said. “It’s inspiring and exciting to play against top guys. It always is, so it’s always fun. It’s a great challenge for me to play against him. I remember I got a few games against [Dominik] Hasek and I put him up there with [Brodeur]. Growing up there were the big guys. It’s always exciting.”

    At least one teammate thinks Lundqvist’s competitiveness has nothing to do with a mano-e-mano faceoff with Brodeur.

    “He’s a competitive guy and I don’t think it necessarily has to do with Brodeur,” Brian Boyle said. “He’s a competitive guy and he wants to win. The stage has been set. It’s the Eastern Conference Final so I don’t think he needs any more motivation.”

    *****

    Monday night’s game was the first time the Devils had played against an opponent in a week.

    After the loss, they were adamant that the week off had nothing to do with what transpired on the Garden ice.

    “The first two periods we were fine,” said left wing Patrik Elias, who was struck in the face by a puck midway through the first period. He returned but was minus-two in 18:22. “We just got scored on. We just didn’t stay with our game. That’s the bottom line.”

    Added Peter DeBoer: “I thought we played a real good hockey games. We’ve been off a week. I thought through 40 minutes we could have been up in the game. So give [the Rangers] credit for finding a way in the third period. But that was a closer game than the score indicated.”

    You can follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman
     
    Photos by Getty Images

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    Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 06:10