Game 15: New Jersey Devils at New York Islanders
Your New Jersey Devils (9-2-3) will be facing off against the New York Islanders (5-7-1) for the fourth time this season on Saturday, February 16. The Devils are 2-0-1 against the Isles this season, with both of those wins coming at the Nassau Coliseum. This meeting will be the last one between the two teams at Long Island this season, barring a meeting during the post season, and they won’t see each other again until Monday, April 1 at the Prudential Center for their final match-up of the 2013 regular season. The Devils and Islanders find themselves on opposite sides of the hockey spectrum today, with the Devils looking to extend their lead on the Eastern Conference, and the Islanders struggling to build off of their powerful season start.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils are playing for their second consecutive night after completing a dramatic comeback against the Flyers on Friday evening. The Devils found themselves in a pretty deep hole, trailing 3-1 after the first period, but managed to power their way through, scoring 2 goals in each of the remaining periods to complete a 5-3 victory over their rivals. The win is their sixth in their last ten games (6-2-2) and was a great bounce-back from the loss to the Hurricanes. The Devils penalty-kill seemed rather weak last night, giving up a goal on the one short-handed opportunity they had. The Devils will look to tighten-up their play while short-handed, as the Islanders burned them for 3 PPG’s in their meeting on January 31. Alexei Ponikarovsky didn’t miss a beat in his second Devils debut, scoring a goal and having some key hits throughout the game. Kovalchuk said it best in the locker room after the game: “We missed him for 13 games, so let’s look at like he had a suspension for 13 games. But it was a lot of smiling and excitement before the game when he came into the room because he’s a fun guy to have in the room, a funny guy. So, everybody likes that he’s back.” It’s always good to see a player return to such open arms. A few line-up changes will be seen tonight as well, with Henrik Tallinder coming in for Mark Fayne, and Johan Hedberg subbing in for Marty. Tallinder has been a healthy scratch for the past seven games, his last being the 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh. Hedberg (2-0-1, 0.65 GAA, 0.973 Sv%) has been “lights-out” this season, earning a 3-0 shutout against the Islanders, and holding the potent offenses of Boston and Pittsburgh to 1 goal each.
New York Islanders
Despite starting the season 4-2-1 in January, the Islanders seemed to have hit a brick wall since entering the month of February. The Islanders are 1-5-0 this month, with their lone win coming in a 4-3 shootout win over the rival New York Rangers on Thursday night. The Islanders’ goaltending has been shaky at best, giving up 23 goals in their past 6 games. Evgeni Nabokov (5-5-1, 2.98 GAA, 0.900 Sv%) has started 11 of the team’s 13 games so far, and will get the call again tonight. The Islanders offense, led by John Tavares (8G-8A) has only put up 12 goals in their last 6 games, but hasn’t been blown out every game. The offensive potential is there, the team just has to capitalize on it and hope that their goaltending will hold up behind them. One silver lining the Islanders can take from the start of this season is the success of their special teams. The power-play (25%, 6th in the NHL) and penalty-kill (88.1%, 4th in the NHL) will look to continue their success, and hopefully carry the team through this slump.
What to Watch For
All three of the Devils-Islanders games this season have been close, hard-fought, nail-biters for both teams and their fans. Even the 3-0 win the Devils had was a scoreless game until the final 4 minutes of the third period. I wouldn’t expect this one to be any different. The Devils will definitely look to tighten up defensively, after allowing 7 goals in their past 2 games. David Clarkson (10G-6A) has been on fire for the Devils this season, scoring 10 goals in 14 games, 3 of which being game-winners, and only trailing Patrik Elias (4G-14A) for the team lead in points. Clarkson has also been a thorn in the Islanders’ side recently, scoring 4 goals in their last 5 meetings. Hedberg has played absolutely phenomenally this season, exceeding everyone’s expectations, and will look to continue this trend. Much like the first three match-ups, I would expect this one to come down to the guys between the pipes, with both offenses pressing hard to get out to an early lead. If you have either of these goalies on your fantasy team, it’s probably a good idea to start them today.
Posted on February 16, 2013, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, Game Preview, New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Devils Fans, NHL and tagged David Clarkson, Evgeni Nabokov, Johan Hedberg, John Tavares, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Patrik Elias. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.