The Matchup: The Chicago Blackhawks come rolling into town tonight to take on our Devils. The puck drops at 7pm and you can watch it on MSG Plus HD or listen to it on WFAN 660 AM.
This is the only time we will see the Blackhawks this season (unless we both make it to the Finals). The last time we saw Chicago, Nov 3, 2010 where the Devils prevailed 5-3. Of course we'll always remember Chicago as the team Marty got #552 against.
What you need to know: Chicago, like New Jersey, currently sits in 6th place overall in their conference. If the playoffs started today, both Chicago and NJ would face off against the conference’s weakest division winner, which is usually the benefit of 6th place. There are apparently a number of lineup changes for NJ tonight and the Blackhawks continue to miss a lot of players in their lineup (see injury report!!). Chicago is 7-2-1 in their last 10 while NJ is 5-4-1 but a concerning 1-3-1 over their last 5.
Chicago is getting hot at the moment which is dangerous at this time of the year and the fact they are doing it without captain Jonathon Toews should be concerning for most Western Conference fans. Bottom line, Chicago is an excellent hockey team with just one weakness that I see…inconsistent goaltending. Tonight won’t be an easy 2 points.
What I expect tonight: The Devils have been firing the puck lately but just not finding twine. On top of that, the defense has been a little loose over the last few games. The Devils have conceded at least four goals in four of their last five games. If the Devils are going to hang on to 6th place, that HAS to stop. The Hawks have a number of weapons on offense so the defense is going to need be on their A game tonight. Marty gets the start tonight.
Injury Report: For Chicago, Marcus Kruger (concussion-like symptoms) is questionable for Tuesday's game. Sami Lepisto (left leg), Jonathan Toews (concussion), Steve Montador (upper body) and Daniel Carcillo (left-knee surgery) are all out indefinitely. … Anton Volchenkov is questionable for the Devils with a lower-body injury. Henrik Tallinder is out indefinitely with a blood clot in his left leg.
Line Changes: The big news this morning was that Adam Larsson is going to be a healthy scratch tonight. Peter Harrold, who was called up from Albany yesterday will take his place in the lineup. Larsson has been struggling with some consistency as of late and taking a night off might do him some good. He’s a young kid, he’s probably feeling the pressure of being the future of the Devils defense and trying to make a push into a decent playoff position. I really have nothing but respect for Larsson but I agree with siting him for a game or few to try and get him refocused on playing some sound defense.
This is probably what you will see tonight…
Adam Henrique - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Petr Sykora - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Matt Taormina - Peter Harrold
There isn’t a lot of bad blood between the Blackhawks and the Devils, mainly because we don’t play them enough but as a hockey fan, I watch them enough and I have to say, when it comes to my list of douche’s in the NHL, Patrick Kane is pretty far up the list. Maybe it’s his look, maybe it’s his attitude but I honestly believe if he could hop in a time machine and change professions, he could easily have been the guy that played the douchebag role in most 80’s flicks. This guy is just begging to be put through the boards night after night. Unfortunately, I don’t see any muscle in our lineup tonight that can do just that…