It has been almost nine months since the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers squared off in a heated and hostile battle for the Eastern Conference title, but the rivalry between the two teams has not cooled.
In a lockout-shortened season with heavy emphasis on racking up wins in the division, the two teams are expecting a regular-season match that mimics the intensity of last spring.
"Every game was so hard-fought. It was hard not to get caught up in it," said Devils coach Pete DeBoer. "It was just great hockey. We hope to recapture some of that this year."
The Devils knocked off the Rangers in Game 6, 3-2, thanks to rookie Adam Henrique's stunning overtime goal. It was a play that earned him a place among the great moments in the rivalry's history he had heard so much about growing up as a kid in Ontario.
"I was only four [years old] in '94, but you already knew growing up there's a rivalry," he said. "Last year, it really heated things up."
Henrique, who spent the first few weeks of the season recovering from thumb surgery, is back just in time. The 22-year-old center, a 2012 Calder Trophy finalist, returned to the lineup last Thursday and expects a tough test against the Blueshirts Tuesday.
"These are fun games to play in," he said. "They're going to bring their best. We're going to bring our best."