The Matchup: The Montreal Canadiens(15-8-2) at The New Jersey Devils (8-14-2)
The Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the clubs this season. The Devils won 3-0 at Montreal on Oct. 21
The Devils Last Game: They beat the Flyers in a shootout 2-1. The Devils came out and played an excellent game in the first period but slowly let the Flyers control the tempo to the game. Hedberg really kept the Devils in this game but its hard to blame them because they were skating with a short bench.
The Canadiens Last Game: They had a heartbreaking loss last night against the Edmonton Oilers. The Habs were up by two goals but the Oilers didn’t quit playing and eventually tied the game and then won it 4-3 in OT.
Keep reading for injuries, big stories in tonights matchup and our thoughs on what the Devils need to do tonight in order to win the game.
The Big Story: The Devils are getting closer to being a healthier team. Captain Jamie Langenbrunner said Wednesday that he’s ready to return to the lineup after missing eight games with a neck injury. Coach John MacLean said following Wednesday’s workout in Newark that he would make his decision Thursday morning as to whether Langenbrunner will indeed return. Marty is also getting close to returning to the lineup but right now it looks like he won’t be in the lineup tonight, which probably makes Canadiens happy as Marty usually plays well against them.
The Not So Big Story: It seems like the media has picked up on this Gionta Brothers story. Should Stephen dress for tonights game (which is not a sure thing), it would be the first time that Brian and Stephen ever faced each other in an organized hockey game. I really fail to see the big deal here, the Staal brothers do it all the time. Now, if they took a page out of the Primeau’s guide to brothers playing brothers handbook, that would make this story MUCH more exciting!!
Injury Report: Langenbrunner, Corrente and Arnott are on the mend, but the Devils are still without goalie Martin Brodeur, who continues to be bothered by a bruised elbow. Montreal is still missing Andrei Markov, who is pretty much done for the season with a knee injury.
Who’s Hot: The Devils have scored only two goals in their last 190 minutes, but goalie Johan Hedberg has allowed only four goals over that span. That includes a 30-save performance in a shutout of Washington last Monday and a 40-save effort in New Jersey’s last game, a 2-1 shootout victory against Philadelphia on Saturday.
Tonight’s Game: The Devils haven’t played since Saturday afternoon so they’ve had a nice mini vacation but that can be scary due to the rust factor that can settle in. Like I said above, I thought the Devils came out like gangbusters on Saturday in the first period but slowly let the Flyers try and control the game in the 2nd and 3rd. The Devils were skating with a short bench because Elias missed the game for the birth of his daughter.
The Habs will be out to avenge the loss from last night to one of the worst teams in the league so they certainly won’t want to repeat that tonight. In the standings, The Oilers are 28th out of 30 and the Devils are 29th.
Kovalchuk has vowed to start scoring goals and I certainly hope that means he starts doing so tonight. The Devils on a whole have been playing better the last few games but they could certainly benefit from Kovalchuk, or anyone for that matter, getting a hot stick.
Montreal has some scorers on their roster. Guys named Kostitsyn, Plekanec, Cammalleri and Gionta know how to find the back of the net so the Devils can’t sit back and rely on Hedberg to win them this game. Montreal scored easily on the PP last night so it will be important to minimize those chances for them by staying out of the box.
As for the lines, Maclean was going with the following in practice yesterday, so its anyones guess what we see tonight.
Ilya Kovalchuk-Travis Zajac-Jamie Langenbrunner
Patrik Elias-Jason Arnott-Mattias Tedenby
Brian Rolston-Dainius Zubrus-David Clarkson
Rod Pelley-Adam Mair-Stephen Gionta/Alexander Vasyunov.
Colin White-Henrik Tallinder
Andy Greene-Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov-Matt Corrente
Anssi Salmela-Olivier Magnan.
Follow us on Twitter as we will be making in game comments over there during the game tonight and LETS GO DEVILS!!