Game 34: New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning
Game Time: 7:30 PM
Radio: 660 WFAN AM, 101.9 FM
For the first and only time this season, the New Jersey Devils (15-11-7) will travel to Tampa Bay to face-off against the Lightning (14-18-1). The previous two meetings between the teams were split, with the Devils winning the first game 4-2, and the Lightning taking the second contest 5-2. The Devils will look to bounce back from a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators, while the Lightning will look to continue their strong play at home.
New Jersey Devils
While the offense looked to struggle a fair amount against Ben Bishop and the Ottawa Senators a few nights ago, Jersey’s Team managed to fight back from a 1-goal deficit twice to tie the game at 2, forcing overtime and eventually a shootout. Goals came from Andrei Loktionov and Marek Zidlicky. Bryce Salvador and Stephen Gionta left Monday’s game early, but are probable for Friday’s contest with the Lightning. Salvador (lower-body injury) said his injury was related to a late scrum with the Florida Panthers, and said that he felt good and ready to play during the team’s practice on Thursday. Stephen Gionta (upper-body injury) wouldn’t say if he’d be ready to play, but did say that the rest he’s gotten in the past few days has helped him feel better. On top of that, Alexei Ponikarovsky practiced with the team Thursday morning, following an injury sustained, supposedly, before the Devils faced-off against the Rangers. Ponikarovsky will skate with the team Friday morning and evaluate how he feels and if he’ll start. Having this many injuries late in the season could be detrimental for the Devils, but with these three seemingly coming back soon, it might not be nearly as bad as it originally seemed. The Devils will still be without star-player Ilya Kovalchuk, as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury.
Tampa Bay Lightning
If you’re looking for an NHL team that has really fallen from grace this season, look no farther than the Tampa Bay Lightning. Earlier in the season, the team was an early favorite in the Eastern Conference. Since then, however, they’ve dropped down to 13th in the Conference and 4th in the Southeast Division. Head coach Guy Boucher recently lost his job due to the team’s poor play, and the rest of the roster still can’t find goal-scoring outside of Steven Stamkos, who has 21.9% of the team’s goals (23 out of 105). Cory Conacher is second on the team in terms of goals with 9. In their past 4 games, the Lightning haven’t managed to score more than 3 goals, something that this team is very unaccustomed to.
What to Watch For
Despite Steven Stamkos being the League’s leading goal-scorer, the Devils managed to keep him off of the scoresheet the last time they met…the only problem is they gave up goals to 5 other Lightning players. The Devils have been playing a lot better recently, however, than they did during that last meeting. The Devils have earned 5 out of a possible 6 points in their past 3 games and are making a strong push to lock their names in the 2013 playoffs. The Lightning have had a strong run at home, recently, winning their past 3 games, although they are 1-3-0 in their past 4 games overall. The Lightning faced the Hurricanes, Flyers, and Sabres in those three home games. The Devils defense will have to do a better job of shutting down the Tampa Bay offense, while the offense will look to give the Devils an early lead. Expect a fast-paced game by the Lightning to start off, a time when the defense will have to come up big and quiet the Lightning offense out of the gates.
Posted on March 29, 2013, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, Game Preview, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning and tagged Alexei Ponikarovsky, Andrei Loktionov, Bryce Salvador, Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Stephen Gionta, steven stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.