The Matchup: The Pittsburgh Penguins (12-7-0) visit the New Jersey Devils (6-8-5)
The Last Meeting: The last time these two teams met was opening night of the 2013/2014 season. Pittsburgh skated away with a 3-0 win and opened our eyes to the many struggles that the Devils might have this season.
Going Into Tonight’s Game: The Devils gave a good effort last night but ultimately a late 3rd period goal and an empty net goal gave the Kings a 3rd period victory for the second night in a row. The final was 2-0 but I thought the game was much better and much more intense than a 2-0 shutout would be. On the other side of the puck, the Penguins have been struggling a bit but won last night 4-1 over the Predators. The Penguins come into this game 5-5 in their last 10 while the Devils come in 5-3-2 in their last 10.
Defensively Tonight: It’s the Pittsburgh Penguins so you know the defense is going to have to work all night. While the Pens aren’t at the top of the league, they are a very good team. Leading this team are guys like Malkin, Kunitz, Jokinen, Dupuis and of course NHL points leader Sidney Crosby. The goal tonight, just try to keep them quiet. Malkin has been quiet recently but James Neal is back in the lineup so hopefully tonight isn’t the night that Malkin gets going.
Offensively Tonight: Score some freaking goals. The Devils have been shutout 5 times this season, which is basically a quarter of the games played so far. That’s terrible and with guys like Henrique, Zajac, Jagr, Brunner and Elias, it shouldn’t be happening. Seems like the Devils goal scorers take the night of when Schneider is in net as he’s been the goalie for 4 of the 5 shutouts against. Tonight Marty is in net so maybe the goal scorers will show up. I don’t think the Devils are winning enough of the small battles. The other night in NY, the Devils rocked in winning the faceoff, so it’s the small things that help a team gain confidence and stick the puck in the net. I also think the Devils do well when they get in front of the net, create traffic and scrums in front but I don’t remember that really happening much last night. Get shots in from the point and get guys in front of the goalie.
A complete 60 minute effort is what it will take tonight. I thought the Devils compete level tailed off in the third period last night while the Kings amped up their game and got the win. Hopefully the Devils can put something together tonight and get something positive out of this weekend. I was hoping to have a shot at being a .500 team going into this weekend.
NHL 14 Simulation Results: Have you played NHL 14? Even though it is mostly the same game as last season, I like the few changes they made. I’ve just started but I do like it a lot. Of course I am struggling in goal scoring just like the Devils are!!
In the NHL 14 Simulation I ran, the Penguins got 2 goals from Crosby early on and another from Malkin late in the second but goals by Zubrus, Brunner and Elias forced OT and ultimately a shootout where the Penguins prevailed 2 goals to none to get the extra point and a 4-3 SO victory.