With the 2013 season starting in just a few hours, there are still many surprising questions remaining for a team that was 2 wins away from a Stanley Championship. The loss of THE PLAYER WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED hurts for sure but that’s not the only question.
The Albany Devils hosted the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins down in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Sunday the 25th. It was a great night for hockey in AC. Sunday’s game was the first of four Albany Devils games at Boardwalk Hall this season. I was very excited to see our favorite players on the ice and playing hockey again.
New Jersey Devils (46-28-6, 98 points) vs. Detroit Red Wings (48-27-5, 101 points)
7:30 PM E.T.
TV: MSG Plus
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Thursday night will be the first and only meeting of the 2011-12 season between the Devils and Red Wings. Of course, Devils fans remember this matchup from the spring of 1995, when the Devils swept Detroit en route to the first Stanley Cup Championship in Devils’ history. Last season, Detroit won both meetings between the two teams: a 4-1 decision in New Jersey and a 3-1 final in Detroit. The Devils last beat the Red Wings on December 5th, 2009, a 4-3 shootout victory for New Jersey.
All of the sudden, the New Jersey Devils are heating up at the end of the regular season. This is probably the best hockey a playoff-bound Devils team is playing since the infamous 11-game winning streak at the end of the 2005-06 regular season. They haven’t won 11 straight (yet), but they’ve won a slightly-more-modest four in a row, although the schedule did ease up a bit. Playing the Red Wings in Detroit will be a big test for the Devils. Although the Devils only scored two goals on Tuesday against the Islanders (plus an empty netter), the team looks to be playing well right now, as they’ve netted 14 total goals in the last three games, and held the Islanders to just 20 shots on Tuesday, following a shutout of the Hurricanes over last weekend.
(headline by @tomheaney1)
Three stars of the game:
3rd star: Zach Parise (2 assists)
2nd star: Patrik Elias (1 goal, 1 assist)
1st star: Travis Zajac (Game winning goal)
Johan Hedberg entered Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders having allowed just one goal in two games against the Isles this season, so it seemed like a good decision by coach Pete DeBoer to start Hedberg on Tuesday. “Moose” responded by stopping 19 of 20 shots he faced, and picked up his 17th win of the season. The Devils didn’t play their best game by any stretch of the imagination, but it was enough to move up to 98 points, and actually close to within three points of fifth place Philadelphia with two games remaining. Here’s how it all unfolded.
(I had to use my own headline tonight. Sorry!)
Three stars of the game:
3rd star: Ilya Kovalchuk (Goal, assist)
2nd star: Ryan Malone (Lighting – 3 goals)
1st star: Patrik Elias (2 assists)
New Jersey Devils (25-17-2, 52 points) vs Winnipeg Jets (21-19-5, 47 points)
7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Tonight will be the final match-up between the Devils and the Winnipeg Jets this season, unless the miracle of miracles happens and they face each other in the playoffs. The Jets are coming off a 2-0 win against the Ottawa Senators last night, and as we saw this weekend, they are no pushover and the Devils need to keep up their strong play against them tonight.
The Devils have won 2 in a row, after a 2-1 come from behind win against Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon to keep them at 6th place in the Eastern Conference. A game like this proved that they have the determination to fight and battle after giving up an early lead. It would, however, be in their best interest to not continue to sit back and wait for mistakes, and just take it right to the Jets tonight.
The Devils will be honoring Patrik Elias for reaching the 1,000 NHL game mark with a ceremony before the start of the game tonight. His 1,000th game was played on January 6th at the Prudential Center against the Florida Panthers.
News & Notes:
Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson were selected to represent the Devils at this year’s All-Star Game. This is a huge stepping stone for the two rookies as they look to continue to secure a roster spot on this Devils team. Congratulations to both of them!
After having surgery over the summer to repair a tear in his Achilles tendon , Travis Zajac’s come back was cut short and he has been sidelined for the last 2 weeks with soreness in the tendon. His recovery is going to be a little longer than expected, but hopefully he will be ready to go later in the season when the Devils will need him most.
Andy Greene is still out with a fractured foot and broken toe, and was not cleared to start skating as of late last week. Currently in week 5 of his 4-6 week projected recovery, he’s right about where he’s supposed to be. His return is essential to improve the defense.
Nick Palmieri was recently sent back down to Albany, to make room for the return of Jacob Josefson, who recently completed a two game stint in Albany. Out since November with a broken right clavicle, it has been confirmed that Josefson will be making his return tonight!
Devils Stat Leaders:
Points – Patrik Elias, 41
Goals – Ilya Kovalchuk, 17
Assists – Patrik Elias, 25
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise (C) – Zubrus – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Clarkson
Tedenby – Carter – Josefson
Boulton – Mills – Zalewski
Salvador – Larsson
Volchenkov – Foster
Tallinder – Fayne
*Scratches – Henrique, Taormina, Janssen
The Latest on the Winnipeg Jets:
The Jets are 0-14-2 when trailing after two periods, but scored 49 seconds in to the game last night. Obviously, getting the early lead is important to this club’s success.
Jets Stats Leaders:
Points – Blake Wheeler, 32
Goals – Evander Kane, 18
Assists – Blake Wheeler, 23
Projected Jets Lineup:
Kane – Little – Fehr
Ladd – Antropov – Wellwood
Stapleton – Cormier – Burmistrov
Glass – Slater – Miettinen
Hainsey – Enstrom
Oduya – Flood
Jones – Stuart