Throughout the offseason, we here at Running With The Devils will take an in-depth look at the Devils’ 2010-2011 schedule. New Jersey has made the postseason 13 times in a row, winning the Atlantic Division and finishing second in the Eastern Conference last season. This year, the team will look to continue it’s impressive playoff streak while maintaining their place among the best in the conference. I’ve already previewed two opponents – the Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals – and today we preview a well-known rival – the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Read after the jump for the full preview!
Penguins vs. Devils – Historical Data
The Devils are 97-80-17-2 in 196 regular season games against the Penguins. The Devils average 3.40 goals for against Pittsburgh, while allowing 3.33 goals against. The Devils’ owned the Penguins last year, sweeping the regular season series. In their first meeting of the season, on October 24, 2009, rookie Mark Fraser recorded his first NHL to put the Devils ahead, 1-0. In the second period, another Devils’ rookie, Niclas Bergfors, doubled the lead with a powerplay goal. Travis Zajac and Zach Parise scored third period goals, and the Devils defeated the Penguins, 4-1.
On November 12, the Devils once again beat the Penguins, 4-1. Ruslan Fedotenko gave the Penguins a first period lead, but the Devils scored four unanswered goals to win the game. Zajac tallied three assists in the victory.
The Devils next victory, a 4-0 win on December 21, carried historical significance. Martin Brodeur, tied for the most shutouts in NHL history with Terry Sawchuk, passed the goalie with the victory. Brodeur finished with 35 saves for the victory. Brodeur again shut out the Penguins nine days later, helping backstop the Devils to a 2-0 victory. Bergfors scored a goal at 1:48 of the first period, and Brodeur’s 32 saves made that tally stand throughout the game. Jamie Langenbrunner added an empty-net, shorthanded goal at 19:48 of the third to ice the victory.
The Devils once again defeated the Penguins, 3-1, on March 12, 2010. Patrik Elias and Sidney Crosby scored first period goals, and the teams were tied until the third period. Andy Greene scored the game-winning goal at 2:06 of the period, and Ilya Kovalchuk added an insurance goal at 9:59 of the period.
The Devils completed the series sweep on March 17, defeating the Penguins, 5-2. New Jersey wore their “throwback” jerseys, going with the red, green and white jerseys. After Chris Kunitz gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 4:01 of the first period, the Devils scored four unanswered goals – including Paul Martin’s first goal of the season – to take the lead, 4-1. Fedetenko made it a two goal game at 5:23 of the third period, but the Devils held off the Penguins. Rob Niedermayer added an empty-netter for insurance in the win.
Penguins vs. Devils – This Season’s Matchup
The Penguins and Devils will again face-off six times this season. The first game should be the most interesting, as ex-Devil Martin, who signed with Pittsburgh this off-season, returns to The Rock on October 11. The Penguins, who were upset by the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs, boast a deeper blue line with the additions of Martin and Zbynek Michalek. The team also features Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, two of the best scorers in the league.
What’s even more interesting is that half the team’s games this season come in March and April. Those late games will have a huge impact on the standings, and they could decide who wins the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings.
Fraser scored three goals last year, and all came against the Penguins…Parise recorded 7 points (three goals, four assists) against the Penguins…While playing for the Devils, Bergfors scored three goals against the Penguins – two via the powerplay…The Devils’ held Crosby to two points (one goal, one assist) last season.