The New Jersey Devils stemmed the bleeding of their abysmal road trip with an a exciting 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. That was their first road win of the season, and just for the added dose of excitement—Brian Boyle scored his first career hat trick.
Now the Devils head north of the border to face the Ottawa Senators, who were predicted to be in a league of their own as the worst NHL team by far. Instead, they burst onto the scene and had a successful start of the season before everything that was supposed to go wrong started to go wrong and they plummeted to the bottom of the barrel.
Keys to the Game
Back to Back Hangover…Ottawa had Monday night off, while the Devils flexed some muscle in the Steel City. That being said, there was no time for celebration after their big win as they took the red eye flight to Canada’s capital. Ottawa isn’t expected to put up much of a fight, but it’s the Devils who will arrive at their matchup against the Senators jetlagged and tired. They better not think a five-goal performance the night before will excuse any missteps in Ottawa.
Third Period Performance…The Devils have lost control of the games they played in the third period too many times this season. Just when you thought the Devils were the NHL’s worst third period team—meet the Ottawa Senators. They routinely get outshot by tremendous margins in the game’s third period. Just look at this weekends loss to Tampa Bay. Ottawa entered the third with a 2-1 lead, but lost in overtime by a score of 4-3. If the Devils can even match Ottawa’s play through two periods, they have a chance to close out the game easily in the third.
Special Teams…The Devils, through all their problems, are still in the NHL’s top-10 for power plays. The Ottawa Senators are third-to-last on the penalty kill, but are top-five in power plays. When it comes to penalty kills, the Devils rank average. Devils get the edge in the matchup if they get enough chances with the extra man, as far as I see it.
New Jersey Devils
Where to Watch
MSG+ at 7:30 p.m.
The Ottawa Senators, even with over achieving young talent, have been the gold standard of how not to run a hockey team the pat two seasons. The Devils have their own problems as well, and will be tired after a victorious night in Pittsburg. Knowing how Ottawa implodes, I’m expecting a 4-2 win for the Devils.