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New York Rangers coach John Tortorella, right, argues a penalty call as Ruslan Fedotenko, left, of Ukraine, and Brad Richards look on late in the third period of the NHL Winter Classic hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, in Philadelphia. New York won 3-2. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Tom Mihalek/Tom Mihalek/2011/All Rights Reservered

The New Jersey Devils depth forwards are getting a lot of attention, and after fourth liners Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter both scored in Wednesday's Game 5 win, why not?

But if you want to point a finger at the reason the New York Rangers are trailing in this series and facing elimination on Friday on the road, it's the fact their top offensive players have let them down.

The Rangers top six forwards from the regular season have combined for only four goals and 12 points so far in this series, and two of those goals finally came in Game 5 from Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik as they battled back into the game.

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Brad Richards remains scoreless in the series. Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin do, too.

Three of New York's 12 goals against the Devils, meanwhile, have come from rookie Chris Kreider. Another three have come from the blueline.

All that money sunk into their top three forwards - Richards, Gaborik and Callahan are making a combined $23.5-million this season in actual salary - has yet to pay off in the Eastern Conference final.

Contrast that with New Jersey, which has gotten some key goals from its pluggers, but also has relied heavily on its top six forwards, who have seven goals and 17 points in the series.

Captain Zach Parise leads the way there with six points, followed by Ilya Kovalchuk with four.

Some of the credit here simply has to go to the Devils defence, which has been unheralded all year but has really found a way to shutdown top competition in the first three rounds of the playoffs so far.

Throw in Bryce Salvador's five points in the series, and they've made an unexpected impact at the other end, too.

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"There's always unsung heroes and guys that step up this time of year, and we've got a bunch of them," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said.

Looking at the numbers in this series, though, both teams do. The difference has been the stars have scored for one team and not the other.





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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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