Game 22: New Jersey Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs
Your New Jersey Devils (10-6-5) will be travelling to Toronto on Monday evening to face-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs (13-9-0) to finish off their 3-game road trip. So far, the road trip hasn’t gone as the Devils and their fans would have liked, falling 3-1 to the Jets, and 4-3 in a shootout in Buffalo. The Devils have only gotten 1 out of a possible 4 points on the road trip, and will be looking to add two points at Toronto’s expense. This will be the first meeting of the two teams this season, and the first of two “north of the border”. Last season, the Devils went 2-1-1 against the Leafs, winning both games in Toronto, with both of them needing to go to overtime.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils are coming off a rather disappointing loss to the Sabres, despite their offense putting three goals on the board (a high-point given their recent performance) the team was unable to seal the deal in regulation and lost in a shootout. A couple of silver linings can be taken from that game, however. For starters, the penalty kill seemed to be back to its old self, shutting down the Sabres power-play all 6 times in the game, including twice during the 5-minute overtime. Andrei Loktionov continued his hot streak as well, scoring the 3rd goal of the afternoon for the Devils, and his 3rd of the season. On the other side of the coin, however, the Devils power-play was ineffective, going 0-for-5 on the afternoon, and big names like Kovalchuk and Clarkson remain off of the score sheet for the Devils. Bobby Butler was also put on waivers Sunday afternoon, with Pete DeBoer saying he had “no plans” to play Butler in Monday’s game if he clears waivers. It was also announced Sunday afternoon that Martin Brodeeur will not be making the trip with the team to Toronto on Monday. This means that the goalie pair for Monday’s game will once again be Johan Hedberg and Keith Kinkaid, with Hedberg getting the start. While this does have some fans upset, Hedberg has not been terrible as of late and gives us the best chance to win in Coach Pete DeBoer’s eyes. And since he sees the team more than any of us, we’ll have to agree with his judgement. The Devils did not, however, rule out Marty for Tuesday’s game at home against the Lightning.* With DeBoer unlikely to start Hedberg in consecutive nights, it’s very likely that we’ll either see A) the return of Martin Brodeur, or B) Keith Kinkaid’s first NHL start on Tuesday evening.
Toronto Maple Leafs
This will be Toronto’s first game in the month of March, with their last game being a 5-4 OT win over the New York Islanders on February 28. The Maple Leafs have been rather inconsistent lately, since February 18, every win the Leafs have had was followed up by a loss, and vice-versa. For their goaltending, the Maple Leafs have split the season between Ben Scrivens (6-6-0, 2.41 GAA, .923 Sv%) and James Reimer (7-3-0, 2.47 GAA, 0.922 Sv%) who have remarkably similar numbers, aside from their records. James Van Riemsdyk, an off-season acquisition of the Maple Leafs, is leading his new team in goals (12) and is the only member of the team in double digits, with Nazem Kadri leading the team in points (21) boosted by his hat trick against the Islanders. The Maple Leafs offense has been rather dangerous, averaging just under 3 goals per game, with their defense allowing 2.5.
What to Watch For
The Maple Leafs have been much better on the road (9-4-0) than they have at home (4-5-0) this season, and while that may sound to work in the Devils’ favor, they haven’t been too great on the road so far (4-4-3). The Devils will be looking to continue the Maple Leafs trend of following a win with a loss, as they look to gain some more ground on the Penguins. Despite their recent losing streak (0-3-1), the Devils are only 3 points behind Pittsburgh with a game in hand. A win against the Maple Leafs would put them 1 point behind Pittsburgh, and tie them with Ottawa for the 5th seed in the East. With Bobby Butler not expected to play on Monday, the Devils will only have a couple of options on who they want to replace him with. If no one else is called up from Albany, the Devils could either replace him with Krys Barch (a healthy scratch for the past two games) or by playing seven defensemen and dressing Peter Harrold. The Devils will have their hands full to start the game, the Maple Leafs have had a long break since their last game, and should be coming out with a lot of energy in front of their home crowd. Weathering this initial storm by Toronto will be huge for the Devils, and could define how the rest of the game goes for the team. Expect the Devils to start playing conservatively, taking advantage of chances when they can, but not being too aggressive until they get a feel for how the Maple Leafs will play.
The Devils Generals will be holding a viewing party for this game at Bar Anticipation in Lake Como, NJ starting at 6:30 PM, half an hour before puck-drop. Stop by for some good food, raffle prizes, and a chance to watch the game with fellow Devils fans and Devils Generals!
*Since writing this post, it has been confirmed that Marty will not be starting in Tuesday’s game against the Lightning.
Posted on March 4, 2013, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, Game Preview, New Jersey Devils, NHL and tagged Ben Scrivens, Bobby Butler, James Reimer, James Van Riemsdyk, Johan Hedberg, Keith Kinkaid, Krys Barch, Martin Brodeur, Nazem Kadri, New Jersey Devils, Peter Harrold, Toronto Maple Leafs. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.