Game 20: New Jersey Devils at Winnipeg Jets
Game Time: 8:00 PM
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The Devils (10-5-4) will play the Winnipeg Jets (9-9-1) for the second time in as many games tonight for the second of three meetings this season. This will be the Devils only visit to Winnipeg. On Sunday, the Jets scored three straight after the Devils took a 2-1 lead going into the second period to steal a road victory 4-2. The beauty of a shortened season is it doesn’t take long to be able to get a shot at revenge against any opponent, and the Devils will be looking to do just that tonight at the MTS Centre.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils will be looking to break out of their recent slump (1-3-1 in their last 5 games) in the second of a home-and-home with the Jets. This is an important game for New Jersey as the Eastern Conference race is tight, and many teams are nipping at their heels. The Devils will need to find a solution to their recent penalty kill struggles (down to 76.5% and 25th in the league), as well as shore up their play in front of their goaltender.
Martin Brodeur, who pulled himself out of warm-ups on Sunday, did not make the trip to Winnipeg as it was deemed “foolish” for Brodeur “to go X-number of hours on a plane to Winnipeg.” He was placed on IR and will not be eligible to play before Monday. So tonight, Johan Hedberg gets his individual chance at revenge against the Jets, and hopes to have a better outing than on Sunday. Keith Kinkaid was recalled from Albany, and made the trip to back up Hedberg.
Andrei Loktionov comes into tonight’s match-up riding a career-high 3 game point streak, and Peter Deboer has rewarded the young center for his play and is expected to play him on the top line between Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique. Tim Sestito was another call up from Albany to center Stefan Matteau and Bobby Butler; Krys Barch will be a healthy scratch. And so, the forward lines will look as follows: Henrique-Loktionov-Kovalchuk; Elias-Zajac-Clarkson; Ponikarovsky-Gionta-Bernier; Matteau-Sestito-Butler. On the defensive end, Deboer has decided to play Henrik Tallinder in place of the struggling Anton Volchenkov. Tonight’s defensive pairings will be: Salvador-Zidlicky; Greene-Larsson; Tallinder-Fayne. Ryan Carter did make the trip with the team, but will not play tonight. He is skating, and has said he is feeling better from what he says can pretty much be called a concussion now.
The Jets come home after a very successful road trip(4-1-0) and beating the New York Rangers on Tuesday. The road trip has brought them back to .500, and they will look to improve their play on home ice (3-5-0). Their powerplay is still only operating at 15.6%, good enough for 22nd in the league, but they will be looking to exploit the recent struggles of the Devils’ PK. Evander Kane has been playing perhaps some of his best hockey getting 6 goals and 4 assists in his last 8 games. Ondrej Pavelec had a strong game against the Devils on Sunday, and will be get the start once again. He has seen almost all of the action recently with Al Montoya only yesterday being activated from IR.
What to Watch For
This will be the first time Travis Zajac will play an NHL game in his hometown of Winnipeg. He will have a lot of friends and family at the game, so expect him to be fired up for this one. The Jets have picked up some momentum with their recent road success, but will need to translate that onto home ice where they haven’t been strong all season. Look for the Devils to have some extra jump in their step (no, not just because it’s not an early game). After a few days off, and spending those days anticipating their shot at revenge for Sunday’s loss, the Devils should come out of the gates swinging. Moose has lost his last 3 starts and will also be playing with a chip on his shoulder, and hoping to get back to his earlier form.