Game 32 – New Jersey Devils vs. Florida Panthers
For the first time since their exciting 7-game series in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the New Jersey Devils (14-11-6) will square off against the Florida Panthers (9-16-6) at the Prudential Center Saturday evening. The Devils will look to continue their strong performance, after a commanding 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, while the Florida Panthers will look to add to a current 2-game winning streak as they claw their way back into the Eastern Conference standings.
New Jersey Devils
With only 17 games remaining in the 2013 season, every point for the Devils is a crucial one, especially since they’re currently 7th in the Eastern Conference standings. The Devils knew this going into Thursday’s game in Carolina, and were able to walk away with 2 points, bolstered by some much-needed goal-scoring, and some superb goaltending by legend Martin Brodeur in his first game back. Marty even managed to score the third goal of his career, getting credit as the Hurricanes scored an own-goal during a delayed penalty against the Devils. Since Thursday, the Devils have also traded for St. Louis Blues forward Matt D’Agostini, giving up a conditional 4th or 5th round pick to St. Louis. Coach Pete DeBoer already stated that D’Agostini would be playing in Saturday’s match-up at right wing but, as of writing this article, wasn’t sure what line he would be playing on. While D’Agostini’s numbers are nothing spectacular this season, a lot of former teammates of the Ontario native say that he’s a great person to have in the locker room and is a team-first player. On top of that, the Devils have made a name for themselves over the years for picking up players unwanted by other teams and having them work perfectly within their system (see: Andrei Loktionov, Ryan Carter, Steve Bernier, etc). The Devils will hope to have D’Agostini actively involved in the offense, as they look to continue their strong play and rack up some more wins before the end of the season.
The Florida Panthers record may seem a little deceiving, they are not to be taken lightly and can absolutely win some key games in the final stretch. How can a team with only 9 wins be dangerous? Ask the New York Rangers. On Thursday night, the Panthers and Rangers squared off at Madison Square Garden, with Florida walking away with a 3-1 win. The win was backed by some phenomenal goaltending by Jacob Markstrom (3-5-1, .916 Sv%, 2.72 GAA), who stopped 44 of 45 shots he faced in the tilt. Markstrom was posting a shutout against the Rangers until Marion Gaborik scored with 3:58 remaining in the game and easily played his best game of the season. Scott Clemmensen (2-5-2, .857 Sv%, 4.15 GAA) had been getting the nod for the majority of the season, but with Markstrom winning the last two games for the Panthers, he will probably get the start on Saturday as well. In those two wins, he’s stopped 77 of 79 shots. Offensively, Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Huberdeau are tied for the team lead in goals (12) and points (20). Surprisingly, the Panthers only have 6 players on their current roster who don’t have a negative +/- rating, and only 2 (Shawn Matthias, TJ Brennan) who have a +/- above 0.
What to Watch For
The Devils will have Martin Brodeur in between the pipes again, as he makes his return from a back injury that kept him out for 13 games. Brodeur played extremely well in his first game back, specifically in the first period, and will look to put another strong game together in his first game back at the Prudential Center. Look for tonight’s gave to be a hard-fought, goal-tending duel. Both goalies have been playing well as of late, and will presumably continue that trend into tonight. It’s very likely that we could see the winner walk away with only 2 goals tonight. The Devils offense will have to put together another solid night, like they did in Carolina, if they want to gain two more points and distance themselves from the 8th place seed in the Eastern Conference.
Posted on March 23, 2013, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, Game Preview, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Prudential Center, The Rock and tagged Florida Panthers, game preview, Jacob Markstrom, Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center, Scott Clemmensen. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.