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Panthers vs. Devils, March 23, 2013: Preview

The New Jersey Devils will square up against the Florida Panthers today in Newark, New Jersey, at the Prudential Center. This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams. The Devils (14-11-6) are looking to move up from their seven-spot in the east. A Devils win combined with a Toronto Maple Leafs regulation loss will push the Devils to sixth in their conference. The Panthers (9-16-6) will be stuck in last place in the east regardless of today's outcome.

The Devils are coming off an impressive win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday evening. Martin Brodeur was stellar in his return to the crease, stopping 17 of 18 shots and even adding a goal of his own. The Devils are 4-5-1 over their last ten; with the home ice advantage and some momentum, Jersey's Team is in a good position to win this contest.

The Panthers are injury-plagued, but still managed to defeat the New York Rangers on the road on Thursday evening. Goalie Jacob Markstrom was the first star of the game, as he stopped 44 of 45 shots. Florida is 3-6-1 over their previous ten games; don't underestimate these fiesty Panthers–they can give the Devils a run for their money.

The last meeting between these two teams came on April 26, 2012, in a decisive Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs. Adam Henrique scored the series-clinching goal in double-overtime to send Jersey's Team to a 3-2 victory and to the next round of the post-season. The Devils were heavily favored in that series, but Florida put up a good fight. Expect more of the same tonight.


Photo by Associated Press/Julio Cortez.

Matt D'Agostini will make his debut with New Jersey tonight after having been acquired from the St. Louis Blues for a conditional draft pick on Friday. D'Agostini has 1 goal and 1 assist on the season, but is a solid fourth liner. Hopefully, he can be useful tonight.

The season is winding down, with only 17 games left to play. Each game is more and more important for the Devils, especially if they have any dreams of catching the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins. Dainius Zubrus is inching closer to a return to the line-up each day and will be a big part of this team's success going into the playoffs.

Both teams are dealing with some injuries tonight. Devils' forward Alexei Ponikarovsky is questionable; Dainius Zubrus (wrist) and Henrik Tallinder (lower body) are out. Panthers' forward George Parros (upper body) is day-to-day. Goalie Jose Theodore (groin), defensemen Michael Caruso (wrist), Mike Weaver (lower body) and Dmitry Kulikov (wrist) and forwards Stephen Weiss (wrist) and Kris Versteeg (knee) are on injured reserve.

 

Devils Army, it is your job to ROCK the ROCK tonight! Puck drop is set for 7:00.

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