Game 3 – New Jersey Devils vs. Washington Capitals
In the home-opener, the New Jersey Devils (2-0-0) put up a decisive win over their Atlantic Division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, in front of an ecstatic, sold-out crowd. They’ll look to repeat that success against the Washington Capitals (0-3-0) Friday night in front of another sold out Prudential Center. During the 2011-12 season, the Devils went 3-1-0 against the Capitals, losing their first outing 3-1, then winning the next two in shootouts before shutting out the Capitals 5-0 on March 2. At the Prudential Center, the Devils were 1-1-0 against the Capitals with Martin Brodeur in net both nights.
New Jersey Devils
Despite the Flyers outshooting (9-3) and predominantly outplaying the Devils in the first period on Tuesday, Jersey’s Team managed to leave the period on top by 2. The goals came from what is quickly becoming a deadly pair, Zajac (2) and Clarkson (2). Ilya Kovalchuk (1) sent home the team’s third goal on a short-handed penalty shot, and from there on out, the game consisted of Marty being…well, Marty.
The Devils penalty kill has picked up right where they left off at the end of the 2011-12 regular season, going 9-10 in their first two games. While the power play could use some work (1-9), the Devils have managed to perform well in previous years without a stellar power play and should not be a major concern for fans. Martin Brodeur and the defense have looked great in the first two games, and they look to improve on that in the coming days.
Much like the Flyers on Tuesday, the Capitals are struggling to get their legs going in the shortened season. Braden Holtby (0-2, 5.04 GAA, 0.863 Sv%) got to start the first two games for the Capitals, but performed less than desired, losing 6-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning and 4-2 to the Winnipeg Jets. Michal Neuvirth (0-1, 4.00 GAA, 0.818 Sv%) got the start on Thursday night, facing off against the Montreal Canadiens. Neuvirth was unable to right the Capitals’ ship, though, as they fell 4-1 to the Canadiens.
The Capitals offense has struggled just as much, if not more than the goaltending. Team leader Alexander Ovechkin has yet to score in the 2013 season and has only been held to 1 assist. Mike Ribeiro currently leads the Capitals in points (3 assists). The Capitals penalty kill has been rather poor this season as well, only killing off 11 of 18 penalties (61.1%).
What to Watch For
As was the case on Tuesday, the Devils will have to watch out for a desperate, hungry team. The Capitals are not off to the start that they wanted/expected and can be extremely dangerous because of that. Their offense is lacking, so a strong, consistent game by the defense and Marty will be what the Devils strive for Friday night. The weak Capitals PK will also be a focal point for the Devils, as they look to improve their power play stats. While I don’t think the Capitals will be tired from their game Thursday night against the Canadiens (they are professionals, mind you), it will be interesting to see how they respond to such a poor performance in front of their home crowd. The game could serve as a wake-up call to the dormant Capitals, or it could just be another kick to the already downed team. It’s also tough to say who the Capitals will start in net…when both of your goalies are performing below expectations, who do you start? Regardless of who starts, expect the Devils to attempt to exploit the shaky goaltending of the Capitals, while also playing conservatively and watching out for a desperate opponent. I wouldn’t expect any line-up changes for the Devils, especially after the team’s performance on Tuesday night.
Posted on January 25, 2013, in Devils Army, Game Preview, New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Devils Fans, NHL, Prudential Center, Washington Capitals and tagged Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Martin Brodeur, Mike Ribeiro, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Prudential Center, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.