The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (26-9-1) vs. the Atlanta Thrashers (18-15-4). This is the 3rd of 4 meetings this season and the teams have split the first two games.
The Last Devils Game: The first period went alright but then it was downhill from there. NJ didn’t cash in on the power play oppurtunities and the Capitals just swarmed the Devils in their own end. Devils looked to have eaten too much pie on Christmas and weren’t able to keep up the entire game. Final score was 4-1 and due to the holiday weekend, I didn’t get a recap in.
The Last Thrashers Game: The Thrashers visited Tampa Bay and weren’t able to overcome a 2 goal defecit in the third period and lost the game 4-3. It was the Thrashers second straight loss.
The Last Thrashers/Devils Game: The Thrashers struck early and struck hard scoring 3 goals on the first 6 shots they had. Marty got yanked and the Thrashers decided to sit back and wait for the game to end but the Devils took advantage of that and turned the game into an old fashioned shoot-out and won the game 5-4.
Tonight’s Matchup: Expect the Thrashers to learn from their mistakes and not take any lead for granted tonight. I hope the game in Washington was more a holiday hangover than anything else and I hope that the Devils have gotten that out of their system and show for the full 60 tonight. The Devils will have to pay attention to Ilya Kovalchuk tonight, who scored his team-leading 22nd goal of the season in Tampa Bay on Saturday and has points in nine straight games, collecting 6 goals and 8 assists over that stretch. Two of the Thrashers off-season signings are also likely to get some attention tonight as Nik Antropov has points in six straight games (6 goals) and eight of his last nine overall (8 goals) and Paevl Kubina is fourth among NHL defensemen and ninth overall with a plus-14 rating this season.
The big story for the Devils tonight is the return of David Clarkson. Clarkson is to be activated from IR for tonight’s game and should definately be in the lineup tonight. This should give the Devils a little jolt, which is badly needed after Saturday’s dismal outing.
Brodeur has started 15 consecutive games and has appeared in 22 straight games and according to Left Wing Lock, should be starting tonight’s game as well. The Thrashers have scored seven goals in four periods against Brodeur this season, so should Marty get the nod, lets hope he finds a way to break the trend.