The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (42-24-3) at the Toronto Maple Leafs (24-34-12). The Devils are 2-1 against the Leafs this season.
The Last Devils Game: The Devils complete a perfect 6-0 season series sweep of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Yes, I know, it doesn’t mean a damn thing but it feels good anyway. The game was more wide open than I am used to seeing as the Devils scored on 2 of 3 beakaways, got a shorthanded goal and saw 5 different Devils get on the scoresheet. Maybe they should put on the red and green more often if that’s the result!!
The Last Maple Leafs Game: Wait..the Leafs are in last place and the Ottawa Senators are in 5th? Don’t tell the Senators that as they got run out of the building the other night. The Leafs got the best of their rival 4-1.
The Last Devils / Maple Leafs Game: Who can forget this one?? Ilya Kovalchuk made his Devils debut and with 4 mins remaining in the 3rd period, the Devils were trailing the Leafs 3-1. When the final horn blew 4 minutes later, the Devils had a 4-3 victory and 2 points while Leafs nation stood with their mouths wide open.
Tonight’s Matchup: These are the games that always concern me. First off, the Devils take their 3 game road losing streak into the Air Canada Center which is always a tough place to play no matter what the Leafs record is. Secondly, I always worry about game immediately following some huge emotional game, such as the one last night celebrating Devils history by pulling out the (somewhat) replica Xmas Tree Jerseys.
Even though the Leafs are in last place, they aren’t a team that can be taken lightly. So far the three previous games this season vs the Leafs have ranged from bad, to not so good to extremely lucky to win. If you go back just a few days ago, the Devils had a huge win against the Penguins and then played extremely poorly the next night against the New York Islanders, another lower teir team in the East. Have I mentioned the 3 game road losing streak yet? just checking!!
Goaltending is a question that comes up in my mind. Normally, I would say that playing a team that has Toronto’s record or similiar should automatically put the backup goalie in. (That’s actually what I do in NHL 10) but Marty had a quiet night last night in my opinion and the Devils haven’t been good on the road recently, maybe Marty is the right choice for tonight. Of course sitting on the bench for such long periods of time might be something to point at finger at as to why Yann Denis didn’t have such a stellar outing last weekend.
As for the lines tonight, I don’t really see any reason to change them. Yes, Pelley’s hit on Goligoski was a little dirty and he did receive a major for it but Goligoski escaped injury which seems to dictate suspension or not. (Yes the Savard/Cooke incident is the exception). It’s possible that Zharkov could take Pelley’s spot tonight as a kind of in-house discipline but for now. These are just a guess and I am sure they’ll be different.
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner
Ilya Kovalchuk – Patrik Elias – Dainius Zubrus
Brian Rolston – Rob Niedermayer – David Clarkson
Jay Pandolfo – Dean McAmmond – Vladimir Zharkov
Bryce Salvador – Andy Greene
Colin White – Mike Mottau
Paul Martin – Martin Skoula
Let’s go Devils and end this road skid we are on. As always, thanks for reading and please put your comments, complaints and critique below, we do answer them.