The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (41-24-3) vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins (41-23-5). This is the sixth and final regular season meeting of the season.
The Last Devils Game: Devils came out with a bang, put home 3 goals in the first and then hit the brakes a bit. Boston climbed back into the game but ultimately failed to put home the 3rd goal and watched NJ skate away with a 3-2 victory.
The Last Penguins Game: They played a close game against the Lightning and in the end skated away with a 2-1 victory but that’s not what people were talking about in this game. Crosby got tangled up with Downie and went to the ice in a very painful looking way but would end up being ok and playing a ton of minutes in the third. Malkin left early after taking a Letang shot off his foot. X-ray’s were negative on Malkin’s foot and he if a game time decision for tonight’s matchup.
The Last Devils / Penguins Game: Just the other night the Penguins came into NJ and once again found themselves on the losing end of the stick. That’s 5 games played this season and 5 wins by the Devils. I thought both goalies played well but NJ seemed to get the bounces that the Penguins didn’t.
Tonight’s Matchup: This is one Devils fans circled on their calendars long ago. Something that Devils fans have wanted for some time. Tonight, the NJ Devils celebrate their history and rock the old Green and Red uniforms. Marty Brodeur will also be wearing the goalie mask he wore when called up to the Devils back in 1992. This game has the same kind of feeling that the Stevens and Daneykos retirement games had and the 3 games we played this season honoring our Stanley Cup champions. The good news is that all those games ended with the Devils grabbing 2 points at the end of the night.
But this is Pittsburgh we are playing tonight and it doesn’t matter that we are going old school tonight or that we are 5-0 against them this season. The Penguins could care less what NJ is doing and are going out there to win. The lead the Devils by 2 points in a tight race for the division.
The Devils need to be consistent, both with the puck and without the puck. With that said, there may be a Defensive pick-me-up waiting to happen. Rumor is Paul Martin is a game time decision tonight so his return is either hours or days away. That’s great news for this defense, I am just not sure I want Martin to return tonight, when he could come back against the Leafs or the Blues, two easier teams. Tonight’s game is sure to have a playoff mentality and maybe we ease him back in. Plus, one would wonder if a rusty Martin is better than a healthy Salmela/Fraser? Against the Leafs, definately but not in this scenario.
So with that said, I’ll keep Martin out for one more game and go with the lines from Friday Night
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus
Ilya Kovalchuk – Patrik Elias – Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston – Rob Niedermayer – David Clarkson
Jay Pandolfo – Dean McAmmond – Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond
Bryce Salvador – Andy Greene
Colin White – Mike Mottau
Ansi Salmela – Martin Skoula