With only eleven games remaining in the regular season, the New Jersey Devils are on the outside looking in. Jersey's Team dropped out of the top eight on Thursday night after their fifth consecutive loss, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins. With a win tonight, combined with a Rangers and/or Islanders loss, the Devils could be back in the playoff picture.
The Devils will match-up against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Prudential Center at 7:00. New Jersey played a dominant game in Boston on Thursday night, but couldn't escape with two points. Jersey fired a whopping 40 shots on goal in the 1-0 loss, but Bruins' goalie Tuukka Rask got them all. Jaromir Jagr scored a garbage goal in his debut with the Bruins; the puck took a bounce of Jagr's skate (as he interfered with Bryce Salvador) and past Marty Brodeur. If the Devils can play the way they did in Boston two nights ago, they will be in good shape.
The Maple Leafs are coming off a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers–who are all of a sudden in the hunt for a playoff spot. Toronto currently holds the fifth seed in the east (20-13-4) and would drop to sixth with a loss tonight. In the only previous meeting between these two teams this year, the Maple Leafs pulled out a 4-2 victory. That game came during the Devils' six-game losing streak in which Johan Hedberg played in place of the injured Martin Brodeur.
Ilya Kovalchuk has been making "great strides" in the rehab of his injured shoulder, but will not be back in the line-up just yet. Devils' coach Pete DeBoer said that he expects Kovalchuk to be back for more than "the last couple of games." This is extremely good news for Devils fans; the push for a playoff spot will become just a little easier when Jersey's best player is on the ice.
Photo by Frank Gunn/Canadien Press.
Joffrey Lupul will not play tonight for the Toronto Maple Leafs after taking a shot to the head on Thursday night against the Flyers. Lupul, who broke his arm in January and missed an extended period of time, did not make the trip to New Jersey with the team.
Steve Sullivan will make his return to the New Jersey Devils tonight; Sullivan, who was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday, will be paired with Patrik Elias and Andrei Loktionov on the Devils' first line. With Sullivan in the line-up, the Devils appear to have four lines that are occupied by NHL-caliber players.
The lines for tonight are as follows:
Forwards: Elias-Loktionov-Sullivan; Zubrus-Zajac-Clarkson; Ponikarovsky-Henrique-D'Agostini; Carter-Gionta-Bernier
Defensemen: Salvador-Zidlicky; Greene-Fayne; Tallinder-Harrold
Scratches: Volchenkov, Larsson, Kostopoulos, Josefson, Barch
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