The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (32-14-1) vs. the Florida Panthers (21-20-8). This is the 3rd meeting of the season.
The Last Devils Game: A few words to describe it would be, awful, atrocious, horrendous, shocking and unpleasant. The Islanders gave the Devils an old fashioned beat down the other night (afternoon) running away with the victory 4-0.
The Last Panthers Game: The played the Atlanta Thrashers in a pivotal matchup to try and climb their way back into playoff position. Neither team is known for defense or shutouts but that is exactly what the Pathers did to the Thrashers, shut them out 1-0.
The Last Devils-Panthers Game: Florida came into The Rock and caught the Devils by surprise, or at least caught me by surprised. The basically pushed the Devils around and skated away with a 4-2 victory, getting their first 3 goals within 24 minutes of the game.
Tonight's Matchup: Survive!! That should be the motto for the first period. As bad as that sounds, the Devils need to survive the first period and not get into another 2 goal hole that the seem to love doing lately. The need to just get back to the basics, get some better passing and breakouts going and maybe doing that will lead to sustaining some type of offensive pressure which will lead to quality chances at getting pucks in the net. The bottom line is whatever the game plan was on Monday, THROW IT OUT AND TRY AGAIN!! The Panthers shouldn't be overlooked because they're on a nice 3 game winning streak right now and 5-4-1 in their last 10.
As reported yesterday, Patrik Elias has been diagnosed with concussion symptoms, which apparently is different that having an actual concussion, but has been put on IR so he will sit out at least until at least next Tuesday. His absence in the lineup isn't a minor issue but at the same time, it's not going to mean a guarenteed losing streak. The Devils also called up two wingers despite having having Andrew Peters and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond as healthy scratches, which makes me wonder why we have them.
I can only guess at the lineups at this point.
Brian Rolston - Rob Niedermayer - Niclas Bergfors
Jay Pandolfo - Dean McAmmond - Vladimir Zharkov
Patrick Davis - Rod Pelley - Nick Palmieri
Colin White - Mike Mottau
Johnny Oduya - Mark Fraser