The Matchup: Chicago Blackhawks (47-22-7) at the New Jersey Devils (44-26-6). This is the second and final meeting of the regular season.
The Last Devils Game: Kind of disappointing because the Devils once again had the chance to push the door closer to being closed on the hopes of making the playoffs for yet another bubble team but like the Rangers and the Flyers before them, the Bruins escaped the meeting with a W. Marty did his job and ended up letting in the only goal of the game with 18 seconds to go.
The Last Blackhawks Game: After losing to St.Louis and looking shakey in recent play, people were starting to wonder if Brian Campbells injury was affecting them more than anyone thought but then the Blackhawks went into Minnesota and kicked them around, scored 4 goals, kept the Wild off the board and kicked them some more.
The Last Blackhawks/Devils Game: We last saw the Hawks on New Year’s Eve and I remember thinking that standing in Time Square, waiting for that 10 seconds of action where the ball comes down would have been a better use of my time. The Devils stunk and it was so bad that Andrew Peters wasn’t the worst one out there. Chicago handed it to the Devils 5-1.
Tonight’s Game: The Devils need to play better. The one thing they have going for them is that they aren’t playing a team that’s in desperation mode, the Hawks are already in the Playoffs. This is a great game to a) tune-up for the playoffs and b) find out where we stand with one of the leagues best. I certainly wouldn’t mind if this was a Stanley Cup Finals Preview.
The bottom line is that New Jersey has to find some consistency in their game. Passing hasn’t been great, the power play has struggled (although was clicking for one game recently) and with 6 games left to do it, it needs to start happening now.
Lemaire has already said he plans on not giving Marty any time off. Lemaire doesn’t feel like Marty is tired and needs time off and Brodeur seemed to agree. “I feel good,” he said. “It’s weird. I just don’t feel like I’ve played a lot of hockey right now compared to other years for whatever reason. The way the schedule has been, it hasn’t been that hard on me at all.” Brodeur has played in a league-high 71 games, but said he feels fresh
It’s hard to know what the lines will be, especially coming off a 1-0 loss. Lemaire can’t go with what he had the other night as the offense was stifled. The one thing I do want to see is Kocalchuk and Rolston together because I really think there is something there. I thought Lemaire didn’t stick with it enought last game.
The one good thing going into this matchup with Chicago is that the Devils are a deeper, more-balanced team than they were earlier in the season.