PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 08: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 (R) of...

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 08: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 (R) of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his powerplay goal at 5:00 of the third period along with Adam Larsson #5 (L) against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on May 8, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Devils defeated the Flyers 3-1 to win the series four games to one.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images

Greetings, hockey fans! Neil Best here, reporting for duty for the duration of the Rangers' playoff run.

I am honored to be working with two of the area's best hockey scribes - Steve Zipay, my predecessor on the sports media beat, and Arthur Staple, my successor on the Giants beat - and looking forward to four wild and crazy weeks of hockey.

(Which is by far the best sport, as we know, but let's keep that a secret from the baseball and basketball fans, who are easily offended.)

Today I attended the Devils' morning skate in Newark - a mile or so from where it all begain for me on Oct. 3, 1960 - and although it technically was optional, there was a very good turnout of players.

It was my first NHL morning skate since 1987, when I went to one in Philly and talked to Chico Resch. I like to limit my morning skates to one every 25 years or so just to keep it fresh.

Afterward I spoke to Zach Parise, whose father, as you might recall, played an important role in the second best hockey game I ever have seen on television - on April 11, 1975 at the Garden.

The best hockey game I ever have seen on TV? Duh! Game 7 of the 1994 Rangers-Devils Eastern Conference final.

I was covering a Knicks-Pacers playoff series at the time, and it was Indy 500 weekend in Indianapolis, making hotel rooms extremely difficult to come by.

I finally found a flea bag that usually went for $29 a night but now was asking the outrageous sum of $59. I told the guy I would take it but had only one question for him: Do you have ESPN?

He said yes, and I said yes, and the rest is hockey history.  The fact that 18 years later I am about to write a story about the same goaltender the Devils used that night is . . . crazy. In a good way.

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