<
>

Is shot-blocking the new trap?

Pre-lockout, the Devils became infamous for their success utilizing the neutral zone trap or “left-wing lock.”

Post-lockout, the Rangers have found success blocking shots in front of Henrik Lundqvist.

So has shot-blocking become the new version of the trap? The style of hockey that’s bad for the “brand-new wide-open” game overall but good for the teams that excel at it?

Possibly.

Just don’t ask Martin Brodeur.

“I’m the wrong guy to answer that question. We’re blamed for the trap. We were successful at it,” the Devils goaltender said Tuesday.

“I guess whatever brings success is what you need to do. I know it’s not the most exciting brand of hockey -- but it’s really effective. And they got in people’s heads by doing what they’re doing, and they’re tough to play against because of that.”

Don’t ask Devils coach Peter DeBoer either. He’s not going to make any excuses.

“Shot-blocking’s been around for 30 years,” said DeBoer, adding that he’s just trying to win hockey games. “Some teams do it better than others.”

The Rangers blocked 26 shots in their 3-0 victory over New Jersey in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night. New York ranks second in the postseason with 293 blocked shots -- more than twice as many as the Devils (146, 15 in Game 1).

All season-long, the Rangers have clogged up the space around their net, daring shooters to fire from in front on of the blue-line.

“That’s their system. You guys know that. We have to get a better job of getting pucks through,” Andy Greene said.

Just how exactly do they do that?

“Finding lanes, moving the puck quickly and being in the right places,” DeBoer said.

Still, DeBoer thinks too much is being made of all the shot-blocking talk.

“It’s definitely not the story of the series,” DeBoer said. “They’re a good shot-blocking team. It’s something you have to deal with, but it’s not the story of the series.”

Yet, anyway.