NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 20: Adam Henrique (14) and goaltender Martin Brodeur (30) of the New Jersey Devils defend the net against a backhard shot by Brandon Dubinsky (17) of the New York Rangers at the Prudential Center on December 20, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
OK, there have only been a total of five playoff series between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, so we have to include them all here. The Devils transformed from the Colorado Rockies into the New Jersey Devils in the fall of 1982, and after tying the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-3, in their first-ever game, they earned their first victory when they defeated the Rangers, 3-2, on Oct. 8, 1982 (and they tied their next two games after that). But it wasn't until their 10th season in the Garden State that New Jersey squared off with the Rangers in the postseason for the first time. The Rangers have had the upper hand in the playoff matchups, only losing once. Here are the five, ranked by memorobility factor.
5. 1997: This was the last hurrah for the Mark Messier/Brian Leetch/Mike Richter Rangers and first and last for the Wayne Gretzky/Messier reunion. The Rangers won the series four games to one, with the Devils being shut out twice and only scoring a total of five goals in the series. The Rangers couldn't sustain any momentum, though, as they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference finals.
4. 2006: This was the only Devil win over the Rangers, so that counts for something. And it wasn't close either, as New Jersey swept the Blueshirts in the conference quarterfinals. Martin Brodeur was still in the midst of his reign of terror over the Rangers, but the Devils lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in the next round.
3. 2008: The Rangers won this series, four games to one, and a mini storyline was Scott Gomez playing against his former team. But this one will forever be remembered for the shenanigans of Sean Avery. In Game 3, during a 5-on-3, the Ranger lightning rod stood in front of Brodeur, facing the goalie, waving his stick in the Devil's face and generally annoying the crap out of Brodeur. Avery didn't break any rules, but because he's Sean Avery, the league changed the rule book right in the middle of the postseason. The two combatants also got into a shoving match in the series. When it all ended, Brodeur refused to shake Avery's hand during the traditional handshake line. "Well, everyone talks about how classy or un-classy I am," said Avery, "and fatso there just forgot to shake my hand I guess." The Rangers lost to the Penguins in the next round.
2. 1992: This was the first one. The Rangers had won the President's Trophy in Messier's first year on Broadway and they struck first in the series, winning the opener. But the Devils came right back and took control of the series by winning the next two games. The Rangers reversed that, though, coming out on top in Games 4 and 5. The Devils' victory in Game 6 was marred by a giant brawl after the final horn sounded. Claude Lemieux, of all people, complained of a slew of Messier cheapshots. The Ranger captain replied to the allegations, "It takes two to tango. Welcome to the Stanley Cup playoffs; this has been going on for 100 years." The Rangers trounced the Devils in Game 7, 8-4, but fell to the Penguins in the following round.
1. 1994: This is the one everyone has been talking about for 18 years. The two teams were one and two in the league (Rangers 112 points, Devils 106), and the series played out that way, despite the fact that the Rangers were 6-0 against New Jersey during the regular season. The Devils won the first game in double overtime thanks to a Stephane Richer goal. The Rangers bounced back to win the next one, 4-0, and defeated the Devils in double overtime in Game 3, when Stephane Matteau scored the winner. New Jersey won the next two, which prompted the guarantee from Messier, who backed up his words with a third-period hat trick in the Game 6 win. In Game 7, the Rangers were 7.7 seconds away from celebrating when Valerie Zelepukin tied the game for the Devils, sending it to overtime. But we all know how it ended: "Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!"