Throughout the offseason, Running With The Devils will preview the Devils 2010-2011 schedule, giving you an in-depth preview of the 29 other teams the Devils will face next season. Last season, the Devils took first place in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. This season, the team will look to improve on their abysmal playoff performance. In today’s preview, we take a look at this season’s matchup with the San Jose Sharks.
Sharks vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 26 all-time regular season meetings, the Devils are 16-7-2-1 against the Sharks. The Devils average 3.42 goals against the Sharks, while the Sharks only score 2.31 goals against the New Jersey.
The Devils defeated the Sharks, 4-3, in their only meeting on March 2 in San Jose. Dainius Zubrus scored the game’s first goal, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead at 11:13 of the second period. Mark Fraser scored 35 seconds later to increase the lead to two. The Devils continued to pound the Sharks, with Ilya Kovalchuk extending the Devils lead to three with a powerplay tally at 19:42.
The Devils completed an unanswered four-goal streak at 5:44 of the third period, when Travis Zajac scored his then-20th goal of the season. The Sharks, however, wouldn’t go quietly. They broke the shutout at 8:46 of the period on a Devin Setoguchi goal. Less than two minutes later, Setoguchi struck again, tallying a powerplay goal and cutting the Devils lead to 4-2. Joe Pavelski scored the third straight goal for San Jose to bring the score to 4-3. But the Devils were able to hold on for the victory, 4-3.
Devils vs. Sharks – This Season’s Matchup
The Devils and Sharks will face each other twice this season. The Devils will face a new Sharks team this season, with a huge change in net. Gone to the KHL is Evgeni Nabokov, who stood between the pipes for ten years in San Jose. His replacement, Antero Niittymaki, will be a definitive downgrade for the Sharks, and I’m willing to bet that most San Jose fans will miss Nabokov early in the season. The team did hold on to key offensive pieces, locking up Patrick Marleau and Pavelski to four-year contracts and Setoguchi to a one-year deal. The team also has Joe Thorton, one of the best centers in the game. While they may take a step backward offensively, the departure of Nabokov and the retirement of Rob Blake make the Shark’s defense weaker heading into the 2010-2011 season.
Other Important Stats
Last season was the first time Zach Parise faced the Sharks. He recorded two assists and finished +2 against them…After being held scoreless the first time he faced the Sharks, Kovalchuk recorded his two career points against San Jose last season…Thornton has 35 career points (14 goals, 21 assists) against the Devils…In seven career starts against the Devils, Nabokov was 2-5 with a 3.39 goals against average…Martin Brodeur is 10-6-2 with a 2.33 goals against in 18 career starts against the Sharks.
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