Game 6: New York Islanders at New Jersey Devils
Game Time: 7:00 PM
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The Devils (3-0-2) come back home after losses in overtime and a shootout on the road to take on the New York Islanders (3-2-1) for the second of five meetings this season. The last time these two teams squared off, the Devils pulled out a 2-1 win in Nassau Coliseum with goals from David Clarkson and Travis Zajac. The Devils haven’t been too considerate of their fan’s blood pressure early this season, with their last 3 games going well into overtime. The Islanders are only one point behind the Devils in the Atlantic Division, and will look to exact revenge and move into division lead.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils will look to snap their losing streak at 2, falling short in overtime to the Montreal Canadiens, and losing in a shootout to the Boston Bruins. They remain one of only two teams in the Eastern Conference that is still without a regulation loss in this early season. There are major concerns with the Devils’ slow starts the season. They will try to avoid falling into old habits, and hope to come out strong in the first period. Uncharacteristically, the Devils have also been taking a lot of penalties recently, and will need to avoid being undisciplined against the #5 power play in the league. On the other hand, their own power play will hope to pick up the intensity, operating at only 16.7% under new power play coach Matt Shaw.
David Clarkson comes into tonight’s game riding a 5 game point streak, and will look to extend that. The Devils placed Cam Janssen on waivers, claiming they are looking to make room on the roster. This leads to the small possibility that Adam Henrique could make his season debut tonight. The team has yet to reach a decision on Stefan Matteau, who has reached his 5 game limit, and cannot play again unless the Devils are prepared to lose a year on his entry-level contract. Martin Brodeur will be back between the pipes after getting the night off in Boston.
New York Islanders
The Isles come into Newark after an impressive 4 – 1 victory on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, and having picked up at least a point in four out of their last five games. The win puts them within a single point of the division leading Devils. Special teams have been putting in work for the Islanders this year, ranking in the top 5 in both the power play and penalty kill. Evgeni Nabokov looked spectacular on Tuesday night, making 37 saves, and missing the shutout with only 1:09 left in the 3rd against a potent Pittsburgh offense. The Islanders will be without the services of forward Colin McDonald, after being suspended for two games for boarding the Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy during the 2nd period on Tuesday.
What to Watch For
Expect another tightly contested game between these Atlantic division foes. The Islanders thrive on the power play, so the Devils will need to avoid some of those mental collapses and stay out of the penalty box. Many counted out the Islanders at the start of this season, and pegged them as the weakest team in the powerful Atlantic division. However, they are coming off a big division win, and will be even more excited with the prospect of finishing the night atop the division. The Devils usually solid defense has had many breakdowns in recent games, and although it hasn’t completely come back to haunt them (posting an impressive #1 ranked 1.60 GA/G) it’s hard to keep asking Marty to bail them out. They will need to be solid defensively against a team that is averaging 3.67 goals per game. But also look for the Devils to exploit a team that is giving up over 3 goals a game. The Devils players have all seemed to notice the excitement of the fans, and attributed their play on home ice in part to that. The Rock has been, well, rocking (see what I did there?) so far this season, and with another divisional game, I don’t expect it to be any different.
Adam Henrique will be making his highly anticipated season debut tonight. Henrique’s return couldn’t come at a better time as it is clear the Devils need some help at the forward position. He will be centering the fourth line with Krys Barch and new Albany Devils call up Matt Anderson, who played in his first NHL game Tuesday. Stefan Matteau will be out while the team decides on his future. A more surprising Devil making his season debut tonight is Adam Larsson. He will be taking Mark Fayne’s spot, paired up with Andy Greene. Mark Fayne, who didn’t miss a game all of last season, including the playoffs, is out with a minor arm injury sustained during Tuesday night’s game in Boston.
Posted on January 31, 2013, in Game Preview, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Prudential Center, The Rock and tagged Adam Henrique, David Clarkson, game preview, Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, NHL, Prudential Center, Stefan Matteau, The Rock. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.