Match-up – Florida Panthers (27-40-8) @ New Jersey Devils (31-28-15)
TV - NBCSN
Puck drop – 7:30 p.m. ET
Season series – Tied 1-1
Last 10: Panthers 3-6-1 | Devils 4-4-2
Projected starting goalies - Dan Ellis vs Martin Brodeur
Projected lines for the Panthers:
Sean Bergenheim – Nick Bjugstad – Brad Boyes
Tomas Fleischmann – Vincent Trocheck – Scottie Upshall
Jesse Winchester – Brandon Pirri – Quinton Howden
Krys Barch – Scott Gomez – Jimmy Hayes
Dmitry Kulikov – Brian Campbell
Ed Jovanovski – Colby Robak
Erik Gudbranson – Dylan Olsen
Projected lines for the Devils:
Tuomo Ruutu – Travis Zajac – Jaromir Jagr
Adam Henrique – Patrik Elias – Damien Brunner
Ryane Clowe – Dainius Zubrus – Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter – Jacob Josefson – Steve Bernier
Andy Greene – Mark Fayne
Pete Harrold – Marek Zidlicky
Eric Gelinas – Adam Larsson
So, the Devils trail the Red Wings by 7 points for the #1 Wild Card and the Blue Jackets by 5 points for the #2 Wild Card. Both of those teams are idle tonight so the Devils have a shot at moving within 3 points of a playoff spot. You know what would have been better? Having won the last 2 games and being able to move within a point of a playoff spot.
On paper, the Devils should beat the tar out of this Panthers team tonight. Florida doesn’t score much and their special teams are very poor. If the Devils ever needed to play a team like Florida, tonight’s the night but at the same time, the last Panthers/Devils game just won’t leave my head.
Larsson is back from the AHL to play in tonight’s game. The Devils are down a ton of defensemen due to injuries so Larsson was finally able to crack the Devils lineup again. Let’s hope the time spent in the AHL had made him a better hockey player. (Actually that’s not really fair, we never got a good enough look at him to see whether or not he was a good hockey player).
Henrique has been the Devils best player since the Olympics break but he can’t carry this team by himself. I know Jagr has done a lot for the Devils this season but he’s in a scoring drought right now which he needs to snap out of. Same can be said for a number of other Devils right now. Occasionally we will get to see the Devils operate on full-tilt (think Blue Jackets game after the Olympics) but we don’t see it consistently. With so few games left and the need for point after point, now is the time.
I’ve been defending DeBoer for a while now but I honestly don’t know if I can anymore. I’m tired of the constant change in goaltending. You can’t expect a goalie to find consistency if he’s taking a seat every other game. Choose a goalie and let him find some momentum by playing every game. I get that Marty is Marty and I get that mayeb you don’t want to sit him for the last 2 weeks of his career but this team is more than Marty. If he’s not the guy to roll off win after win then go with Cory. Maybe Marty’s the guy that should be playing every night, I don’t know. But I do know that it is DeBoer’s job to figure that out and to give the Devils the best chance at winning but something tells me that a constant change in goalie each game is not giving the Devils the best chance at winning.