EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's a new spring and Doug Gilmour is again in his familiar spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. For the fifth time in his playoff career, Gilmour was matched face to face with Wayne Gretzky on Friday night, this time in New Jersey.
Gilmour put to practice all the little intricacies he has learned over the years playing against Gretzky. He contributed a great deal in keeping the Great One at bay in Friday night's 2-0 New Jersey victory, in effect becoming one of the standout pieces in a team defense that gave the Devils the quick upper hand in this series.
"We got exactly what we expected," coach Jacques Lemaire said of Gilmour's play against Gretzky. "The thing that pleased me was the way we did things defensively."
In fact, the Devils proved why they were the best defensive team in the league in the regular season. With Martin Brodeur at the helm, the Devils have now combined to keep the Rangers scoreless in the teams' last two meetings.
The Rangers have not scored on Brodeur and the Devils since the second period of a 1-1 regular-season tie on Feb. 19. After that came a 4-0 regular-season shutout on March 27 and then Friday night's 2-0 blanking.
That's 7 1/2 periods since the Rangers put one in the net against the Devils. Think the Rangers might have a little bit of a psychological block right around now?
Brodeur was brilliant on this night with 21 saves, just as he often is. This was Brodeur's second shutout of the playoffs to go with his 10 in the regular season, which were the most since Ken Dryden of the Canadiens had 10 in 1976.
"We were on top of our game defensively," a smiling Brodeur said. "We were able to control things pretty good. When we play like that defensively it allows me to have better control."
"I thought we did as good a job as we've done in a long time controlling the neutral zone," said defenseman Shawn Chambers, who made the pass to Scott Niedermayer for the game's first goal, which came with 6 minutes, 15 seconds left in the second. "When you get control of the neutral zone, that's the key. We also did well matching against their forwards."
With Gilmour playing against Gretzky and Bob Carpenter against Mark Messier for the most part, the Devils were successful in shutting down the biggest weapons for the Rangers.
As for Gilmour, Friday night's game was the latest episode in a long playoff relationship with Gretzky. The first postseason matchup came in 1988, when Gretzky was with Edmonton and Gilmour with Calgary.
Now here they are again, nine years later.
Pub Date: 5/04/97