Game Time: 7:30 PM
Radio: 970 AM
The New Jersey Devils (15-14-10) will play host to the Boston Bruins (25-9-4) tonight for third and final meeting of the season. This is the second game between these teams in the last week. Last Thursday, the Devils shipped up to Boston in a game that saw the Devils throw everything but the kitchen sink at Tuukka Rask, but he stopped all 40 shots. Jaromir Jagr would score in his debut as a Bruin, and the Devils would fall 1-0. These are two teams headed in different directions, as Boston is fighting to win the Northeast Division, and New Jersey is fighting to keep its playoffs hopes alive.
Game Time: 7:00 PM
TV: MSG, NHLN-US
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The New Jersey Devils (15-12-9) will travel to Boston to face-off against the Bruins (23-8-4) on Thursday night for the second time this season, with the teams set to meet once more next Wednesday at the Prudential Center. The first meeting between the teams came when the Devils were 3-0-1 and the Bruins were 4-0-1, and resulted in a 2-1 shootout loss for the Devils. The Devils will be looking to get out of a recent slump that has plagued their play lately, while the Bruins will look to catch up to Montreal for first place in the Northeast Division.
Three Stars of the Game:
3rd Star: Alex Killorn (1 goal, 1 assist)
2nd Star: Andy Greene (1 goal, 1 assist)
1st Star: Steven Stamkos (2 goals, 1 assist)
Stephen Gionta, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Bryce Salvador all made their returns from injury, but it wasn’t enough as the Devils (15-11-8) dropped another tough one in the shootout Friday night to the Tampa Bay Lightning (15-18-1). The offense wasn’t the problem this time, it was the defensive play. The Devils scored in almost every way they could, scoring goals at even strength, on the power play, shorthanded, and even on a penalty shot, but couldn’t put one past Mathieu Garon during the shootout. The Devils are now 2 – 6 this year in the shootout, a huge drop-off from their shootout success last year.
Game Time: 7:30 PM
Radio: 660 WFAN AM, 101.9 FM
For the first and only time this season, the New Jersey Devils (15-11-7) will travel to Tampa Bay to face-off against the Lightning (14-18-1). The previous two meetings between the teams were split, with the Devils winning the first game 4-2, and the Lightning taking the second contest 5-2. The Devils will look to bounce back from a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators, while the Lightning will look to continue their strong play at home.
From before the lockout until now, I’ve seen a good amount about how this year’s Devils team was going to be much worse than last year’s team. I was curious to see what the stats said about how the two teams compared. So for those who are not very fond of math, you may want to stay away from this post because I’m about to throw a lot of numbers your way. Ready? OK, here we go. The Devils are now 64.58% through their season this year. In comparison to last year’s full season, that’s roughly 53 games into the season. Actually its 52.95 games, but I’ll be nice and round it off to 53 games. Game 53 was on February 7th, 2012. Here are a few stats at that point last season:
- The power play was operating at 16.39% (Scoring 30 goals on 183 power play opportunities)
- The penalty kill was operating at 88.71% (Allowed 21 goals on 186 times shorthanded)
- The Devils had allowed 2 or more power play goals in 3 games (5.66% of their games)
- The Devils were shorthanded 4 or more times in 26 games (49.06% of their games)
- Their goals against average was at 2.75 GA/G*
- Their goals for average was 2.66 GF/G*
- They had picked up 61.32% of possible points
Now here are some stats from this season so far:
- The power play is operating at 17.8% (Scoring 21 goals on 118 power play opportunities)
- The penalty kill is operating at 79.66% (Allowing 24 goals on 118 times shorthanded)
- The Devils have allowed 2 or more power play goals in 5 games (16.13%)
- The Devils have been shorthanded 4 or more times in 16 games (51.61% of their games)
- Their goals against average is at 2.61 GA/G*
- Their goals for average is 2.45 GF/G*
- They’ve picked up 54.8% of possible points
So doing some subtraction, you can see that:
- The power play has picked up 1.41%
- The penalty kill has dropped 9.05% (Of course, last year was a NHL record setting PK)
- They have allowed 2 or more power play goals in 10.47% more of their games
- They have been shorthanded 4 or more times in 2.55% more of their games.
- They are allowing .14 fewer goals per game
- They are scoring .21 fewer goals per game
- They’ve picked up 6.52% less of possible points
As you can see, the Devils have bettered their power play and goals against average, but their goals for, penalty kill, and discipline have gone down. And, overall, are picking up points at a slower pace. Now, none of these stats jump out as a reason to hit the panic button (aside from the penalty kill, but come on, did we seriously expect them to break their own record?) but their performance has dipped just a bit. Injuries and offseason losses have played a big part in this. You can almost attach each dipped stat to a specific player. Martin Brodeur’s absence is going to affect things like the penalty kill and power play goals allowed per game, and losses of Zach Parise to free agency, not resigning Petr Sykora, and Dainius Zubrus to injury have affected the scoring (albeit not by much). Overall, the Devils’ performance has gone down, but not necessarily by all that much, or at least, not as much as most thought it was going to. Now, with Marty Brodeur back and a few other pieces hopefully getting healthy within the next few days it’s crunch time. With only 17 games (or 35.42% of the season) remaining and hovering around the playoff bubble, every game and every point is critical.
*I decided to not count the goals scored in the shootout. That is, for a game that goes to a shootout after being tied 2-2, the final score would be 3-2 in favor of the team that wins the shootout. I chose not to count that extra “goal” as part of the goals against or goals for average. I’ll include them here, though, in case anyone wants to know the numbers with those included: 2011-2012: 2.79 GA/G, 2.83 GF/G | 2012-2013: 2.74 GA/G, 2.52 GF/G
For the first time since their exciting 7-game series in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the New Jersey Devils (14-11-6) will square off against the Florida Panthers (9-16-6) at the Prudential Center Saturday evening. The Devils will look to continue their strong performance, after a commanding 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, while the Florida Panthers will look to add to a current 2-game winning streak as they claw their way back into the Eastern Conference standings.