It has hit the point in the season in which every game has a high level of importance and every point is extremely valuable. Coming off a victory against the last place Avalanche, the Devils are going to have to ramp up the intensity level and play a complete game against an Ottawa team that is fighting to remain firmly intact in their current playoff positioning.
Keys to the game:
5 on 5 play is going to be crucial to this one, as both teams have the same power play percentage and only a slight 2 percent advantage to Ottawa’s penalty kill. As we all know one of the main issues for the Devils has been generating scoring opportunities while at even strength, but the Senators have some weaknesses on the back end that can be taken advantage of and may lead to some grade A chances to bury the puck. The projection is for Michael Condon to get the start in this one, who has some pretty solid numbers so far this season, however he has been up and down over his last string of starts. Of his last 4 starts he has been very up and down, posting two games in which he only gave up 2 goals and got the win, but also two losses in which he gave up 4 and 5 goals. Since these games seem to be going in a bad, good, bad, good trend, you could theoretically say he is now due for a bad performance.
Players to watch:
The line of Noessen, Josefson and Zacha have been on an absolute tear as of late, and I don’t see any signs of that slowing down anytime soon. Zacha comes into this one with 4 points in his last 5 games and only seems to be improving each time on the ice, so look for him to be all around the crease again in this one. Taylor Hall also has been racking up the points as of late, and will certainly be another key component in the Devils putting up a high goal total tonight.
On the other side, Erik Karlsson is one of the most dangerous players with the puck in the league, and even though he will be coming off a game in which his minutes were his highest in the past 5 games, he will cause a lot of trouble anywhere in the offensive zone. While he may not be having the strongest of seasons, New Jersey native Bobby Ryan always shows up to play against the Devils. His size and strength can certainly cause problems around the crease, and with space on the power play his shot can become deadly.
The Senators are coming off a tough loss to the Sabres in a game where they seemingly dominated the play but goaltending and the defense let them down. They are going to be hungry early in this one, but home ice has once again become rather friendly to the Devils and I think that trend will continue in this one. Devils come away with a much needed victory in this one by the score of 4-3.