The New Jersey Devils will either enter the Christmas break ending their three-game slide or extending it to four. The Devils played Detroit earlier this month, defeating them 3-2 in overtime after rallying from a 2-0 deficit. Since then New Jersey’s gone 1-3-1, getting outscored by their opponents 12-5. The Red Wings lost just once in regulation in their last ten games, and have a comfortable cushion in their division and wildcard standings. Left wing Patrik Elias remains out of the lineup tonight, but forwards Jacob Josefson and Sergey Kalinin are playing. Both forwards had injury scares at different points in the Devils’ last game against the Bruins, and neither returned for the remainder of that matchup. Like the Devils though, Detroit hasn’t fared much better since these two teams last met, going just 1-1-1. Their 4-2 win against Calgary was their first one in ten days, and they hopes to double up on their winning streak before entering the holiday break.
Tonight’s contest wraps up a four-game home stand for the Red Wings, which began after their overtime loss to New Jersey earlier in the month. The Red Wings have played fewer games than New Jersey has since these two teams last met. Along with the Devils being the visiting team this time, it can be inferred that Detroit has the edge in terms of player stamina lasting throughout the game.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg has been one of Detroit’s more productive forwards this month. He had two goals and points in seven contests going into tonight’s game. Outside of Henrik though, the Red Wings haven’t gotten had any consistent contributions from their other top scorers. Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, and rookie Dylan Larkin have combined for just four goals in each of their last six games. It’s probably not a coincidence how this minor goal drought overlaps with the team’s recent spotty record.
The Red Wings turned to Petr Mrazek to get them over the hump. He was in goal for Detroit’s 4-2 victory over Detroit and has gone 4-2-4 in his last ten starts. Jimmy Howard, who was in goal for Detroit during their first bout with the Devils, hasn’t won in his last three stars after winning his last four prior to his current funk. It’s interesting how Howard’s getting the nod for the Red Wings in goal tonight.
Who to watch
Kyle Palmieri…He had a big game for the Devils when they last played Detroit, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime and collecting an assist. He’s been quiet since that night, getting no goals and two points in his last five games. New Jersey’s power play happens to have gone just 1-for-11 since Palmieri last scored. It’s a bothersome correlation that could end tonight if K-Palm can find the back of the net.
Jimmy Howard…His aforementioned situation, along with Mrazek’s win earlier this week truly makes this a head scratcher from an outsider’s perspective. Why not ride the hot goalie going into tonight? Between tonight’s game being the last before Christmas break and Howard’s breakdown in Detroit’s previous matchup against New Jersey, Howard certainly has a golden opportunity to redeem himself.
What to watch
Early deficits…The Devils have gone down 2-0 in four of their last six games and haven’t scored a first period goal in just as many. Their sloppy sluggish starts to games have been costly to the Devils over the past few weeks and have factored considerably to their recent slide in the standings. These slow starts have been a major problem for the Devils this season. Although they’ve rebounded and won some games they should have lost, these scenarios are heavily outweighed by all the lost games they could have won.
Where to watch
MSG + (Local)
When to watch