Your New Jersey Devils (9-2-3) will be facing off against the New York Islanders (5-7-1) for the fourth time this season on Saturday, February 16. The Devils are 2-0-1 against the Isles this season, with both of those wins coming at the Nassau Coliseum. This meeting will be the last one between the two teams at Long Island this season, barring a meeting during the post season, and they won’t see each other again until Monday, April 1 at the Prudential Center for their final match-up of the 2013 regular season. The Devils and Islanders find themselves on opposite sides of the hockey spectrum today, with the Devils looking to extend their lead on the Eastern Conference, and the Islanders struggling to build off of their powerful season start.
Roughly 30 hours after the Devils beat the Penguins 3-1 in Newark, history repeated itself. Sure, the arena was different…and the goal-scorers were different…heck, even the goalies were different. But the New Jersey Devils (8-1-3) pulled off another 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins (8-5-0) to win their fifth straight and increase their lead on the Atlantic Division, and the Eastern Conference.
Start Time: 1:00 PM
TV: NHLN-US, MSG+
Radio: WFAN 600 AM, 101.9 FM
As the state of New Jersey braces for what will probably be the worst snow storm of the year, the New Jersey Devils (6-1-3) are preparing for what could be one of their most important weekends of the shortened season. Saturday afternoon, the Devils will play the first game of a home-and-home series against their Division Rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins (8-3-0). The Devils enter the game winning their last three, most recently a convincing 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Penguins have won their past five games, consisting of wins against the Rangers, Devils, Islanders, and the Capitals twice.
New Jersey Devils:
One of the key factors to the Devils three-game winning streak is obviously the team’s strong penalty kill. The Devils have killed off all 16 penalties called against them in those three games, with Kovalchuk even scoring a short-handed goal against the Lightning. While averaging over 5 penalties a game is not where the Devils want to be, being able to kill those penalties is a huge boost of confidence for the team. After giving up 3 power-play goals against the Islanders last week, the Devils really started being more aggressive on their penalty kills, pressuring the offense to make mistakes. On top of that, the Devils goaltending has been superb as of late. Hedberg posted a shutout against the Islanders, and Marty let in three goals in his previous two outings, making some truly stellar stops in both games. After 10 games, the Devils are only averaging 2.1 goals against, tied for 5th in the NHL.
What is there to say about the Penguins that hasn’t already been said? Their offense has been as lethal as ever this season, and the Penguins have one of the best goalie pairs in the NHL. Marc-Andre Fleury (5-2-0, 2.38 GAA, 0.909 Sv%) is looking to erase all memories of his terrible performance during last season’s playoffs, and Tomas Vokoun (3-1-0, 2.08 GAA, 0.927 Sv%) has played spectacularly when filling in for Fleury. The Penguins are currently averaging 3.46 goals per game, tied for second with the Chicago Blackhawks, trailing only the Tampa Bay Lightning (4.20).
What to Watch For
Martin Brodeur will start career game number 1,200 Saturday afternoon, yet another milestone in the massive book Marty has written through his career. With the way Marty has been playing lately, I wouldn’t worry about last week’s performance getting to him. Marty’s made a career out of bouncing back from tough losses, and he’s put on a clinic in his past 2 starts. Look for Marty to continue his strong play and for the defense to continue supporting him. While the Devils penalty-kill has been strong, the Devils will want to stay out of the box more, but don’t expect them to play more conservative because of this. The offense has been clicking as of late, with Clarkson (7) leading the team in goals, and tied with Elias for the team lead in points with 13.
The Penguins offense will be fueled by the usual suspects: Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, and Neal. Look for them to test Marty early and often, trying to break through and have another high-scoring game against the future Hall-of-Famer. Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to get the start against Marty on Saturday afternoon. While the Penguins are sporting one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league, don’t expect that to intimidate the Devils. After all, they held the #1 team in the league (Tampa Bay) to just two goals on Thursday.
With the Central/North New Jersey area currently being pounded by winter storm Nemo, don’t expect a sell-out crowd at the Prudential Center tomorrow. Who knows, maybe this generation will get a chance to have their own 334 Club. Regardless, expect Devils fans to show up ready for a good game.
Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: Evgeni Nabokov (23 Saves, 2 GA, 0.923 Sv%)
2nd Star: Johan Hedberg (22 Saves, 0 GA, 1.000 Sv%, SO)
1st Star: Steve Bernier (2 G, 3 Shots, GWG)
After getting blown out by the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Saturday afternoon, the Devils entered Super Bowl Sunday needing a win against the Islanders to stop their 4-game skid and to get some momentum back into their season. The Devils did not help themselves out early on, taking 8 PIM in the first period, including a double-minor by Dainius Zubrus. Luckily for the Devils, Matt Moulson took a 2-minute penalty for tripping 42 seconds after the double-minor, leading to a full two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey between the teams. The Devils were able to leave the first period unscathed, thanks mostly to some superb goaltending by Johan Hedberg, but were also unable to crack through Evgeni Nabokov. The Devils were outshot 10-7 in the first period.
Game Time: 1:00 PM
TV: NHLN-US, MSG+
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The New Jersey Devils (3-0-3) will face-off for the first time this season against the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-0) Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Both teams played their most recent games Thursday evening, with the Devils falling in overtime to the Islanders, and the Penguins shutting out the New York Rangers 3-0. Last season, the Devils split the series with the Penguins, finishing 3-3-0, finishing 1-2-0 in Pittsburgh. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils in goals (4) and points (11) against the Penguins last season.
New Jersey Devils
While getting at least a point in every game this season, the Devils realize that some changes have to be made to get back to their winning ways. Coach Peter DeBoer said after Thursday’s OT loss, “We didn’t deserve to win. We didn’t play well enough to win. We lost the special teams battles. We lost the faceoff battle. I said this before: You get what you deserve in this game. We had some opportunities to win, but we didn’t play well enough to earn two points.” The Devils only managed to kill 1 penalty out of 4 against the Islanders, by far their worst performance of the year while short-handed after only giving up 3 goals on their previous 36 times short-handed. If there’s any silver-lining to be taken from Thursday’s game, it’s the way the Devils played while they were down during the game. The Devils were down 2-0, 3-2, and 4-3 and managed to tie the game each time. While the Devils struggled in a lot of areas, they did a good job of making up for it offensively. They’ll be looking to their defense and their special teams to help right the ship this weekend.
The Penguins, always a strong contender in the Atlantic Division, are off to a less-than-favorable start to the shortened season. Despite the shutout win over the Rangers on Thursday night, they were almost shutout by the Islanders on Tuesday, finally breaking through Nabokov with 69 seconds left in the game. The Penguins are also winless at home (0-2-0) falling to the Islanders and the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2. Marc-Andre Fleury (2-2-0, 2.95 GAA, 0.890 Sv%) is usually Pittsburgh’s go-to-goalie, but Tomas Vokoun (2-1-0, 1.81 GAA, 0.940 Sv%) has made a strong case for himself this season. As always, Evgeni Malkin (2G, 6A) and Sidney Crosby (3G, 4A) lead the team in points.
What to Watch For
If you weren’t a fan of David Clarkson before this season started, chances are you are now. Clarkson (4G, 4A) has registered a point in all six of the Devils games so far this season and currently holds the scoring lead for the team. Patrik Elias (2G, 5A) has also been hot for the Devils, as he looks to improve on his franchise records. Ilya Kovalchuk has always been lethal against the Penguins, registering 24 goals and 24 assists in 42 games against Pittsburgh. Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (3-0-2, 2.32 GAA, 0.913 Sv5) had a bit of an off night against the Islanders, but is still very solid on the season. Look for a bounce-back game from Marty to make up for his performance on Thursday. With Crosby, Malkin, and Neal combining for 10 of the Penguins’ 18 goals, they’ll be the three players the Devils defense will look to shutdown Saturday afternoon. Expect the Devils defense to play a much more conservative, controlled game than we saw on Thursday evening, but also expect the offense to keep up the pressure and continue scoring.
Game Time: 7:00 PM
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The Devils (3-0-2) come back home after losses in overtime and a shootout on the road to take on the New York Islanders (3-2-1) for the second of five meetings this season. The last time these two teams squared off, the Devils pulled out a 2-1 win in Nassau Coliseum with goals from David Clarkson and Travis Zajac. The Devils haven’t been too considerate of their fan’s blood pressure early this season, with their last 3 games going well into overtime. The Islanders are only one point behind the Devils in the Atlantic Division, and will look to exact revenge and move into division lead.
The Devils have had a great first week so choosing this season’s first Player of the Week won’t be easy. Travis Zajac showed us exactly why the Devils signed him for another eight years by scoring the first goals of our first two games. David Clarkson scored two goals this week and is on pace for another 30+ goal scoring season. Martin Brodeur had his 10th shutout against the Philadelphia Flyers and his 120th career shutout – not to mention his 658th win. Ilya Kovalchuk scored two game winning goals, against both the Flyers and his memorable OT goal against the Washington Capitals. Patrick Elias is also having a great start to the season.
Time to vote, who do you think should be named our first Player of the Week?
The Devils suffered their first loss of the 2013 campaign as they fell to the Canadiens by a score of 4-3. The Devils were bit badly by their 4th straight sub-par 1st period as the Habs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. Ryan White cashed in on a rebound after a strong start by Montreal for most of the first 3 minutes. The Devils were able to settle the game down, however defenseman Andy Greene made a bad turnover and star rookie Alex Galchenyuk fired a laser pass over to fellow rookie Brendan Gallagher who rifled the puck past Brodeur to give the home side a 2-0 lead. The Devils tried getting back into the game but were snake bitten by their own undisciplined play.
The Devils are entering tonight’s contest 3-0-0, despite needing overtime to beat the Washington Capitals. The Montreal Canadiens are entering this game 2-1-0 and we all know this is going to be another exciting game to watch, as most are when we head to Montreal. Last season the Devils won the season series 3-1, and Martin Brodeur shined as always when he visits his hometown. This season the Devils will only play the Canadiens three times, and this is the only time up in Montreal.
Many questions are looming for this season, however today’s win can hopefully ease the worry. With a shortened season New Jersey has to come out of the gate strong and today was a solid start. Brodeur’s age didn’t seem to matter as he looked sharp stopping 18 of 19 shots. He was quick and looked focused. As usual, Marty was positioning himself well and challenging the Islanders shooters.