The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (9-4-0) vs New York Islanders(5-5-5). This is the first meeting of the season. The Devils won the series matchup last season 4-2 and outshot the Islanders by a large margin of 226-177.
Last Devils Game: After what I thought was a slow first two periods by both teams, the Devils, specifically Niklas Bergfors, kicked it into high gear and scored 2 PPG's and held off the Ovechkin-less Washington Capitals 3-2 for only their 2nd home victory this season. Marty looked pretty good against Washington.
Last Islanders Game: The Sabres outworked about outplayed the Islanders and shutout the Islanders 3-0 ending the nice run that the Islanders were putting together. Face-offs were key in this game, an area I thought the Islanders were doing well in this season.
Tonight's Matchup: Let's start with who is in. Does the name Patrick Elias sound familiar? Yup, that's right, good ol' #26 makes his season debut tonight. Marty sits in favor of Yann Denis facing his old team and the first game of a back to back weekend (Devils travel to Ottawa tomorrow). Rob Niedermayer will miss this weekends game due to an "Upper Body Injury" suffered Wednesday night.
Who's Hot: Niklas Bergfors is coming off his first multi-point game and Travis Zajac has 13 points over the last 12 games. With 43 shots in 13 games, Bergfors is second among rookies to John Tavares (48 shots), who has played two more games. Speaking of Tavares, he is having an extremely productive rookie campaign, as is expected, scoring 5 goals and 11 points in 14 games for the Islanders. He did, however, see his four-game point-scoring streak (2 goals, 2 assists) come to an end on Wednesday in a 3-0 loss to the Sabres.
A few key injuries on the Devils roster has me a little worried that Tavares mught get the time he needs out there to be a thorn in the side of the Devils. Hopefully, Denis understands the Islanders methodology and can shut them down. Should be an interesting game.
For some insight to the Islanders view of this game, head over to our friends at the Islanders Hockey Blog