The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (8-16-2) at the Pittsburgh Penguins (18-8-2)
Season Series: Second of six meetings between these Atlantic Division rivals. Brent Johnson made 30 saves and Paul Martin had an empty-net goal and an assist against his old team in a 3-1 Pittsburgh win in New Jersey on Oct. 11.
The Devils Last Game: It wasn't nearly as bad as the game prior to Saturday when Montreal embarrassed the Devils at the Rock but in the end, it was the same result. The Devils weren't able to get any kind of momentum or consistent pressure on the Flyers and ended up losing 5-3.
The Penguins Last Game: The outcome was never in doubt Saturday night in Columbus, as Pittsburgh rolled to a 4-0 lead after one period on the strength of three power-play goals, two by Martin (his first goals since that empty-netter in New Jersey). Sidney Crosby also scored twice, extending his points streak to 15 games, and the Penguins left Nationwide Arena with a 7-2 victory.
Tonight's Matchup: As a fan, you have to be worried about this game. The Peguins are playing GREAT hockey at the moment and Crosby looks as good as anyone in the NHL right now. Marc-Andre Fleury looks to have found his focus as he is 10-0-1 in his last 11 starts, allowing two goals or fewer nine times.
In short, this game could get rediculous.
What can the Devils do? Saturday showed us that even when Kovalchuk and Zajac do find the net, the problems of this team run much deeper than those two not scoring. The Devils defense doesn't seem to understand the concept of positioning so I am not very hopeful for a good outcome tonight. The period to watch will be the second period as this period has killed the Devils so far this season.
Maclean was doing all kinds of line switching in practice yesterday so I am not even going to take a stab at the lines today. The one thing we do know is that Kovalchuk better show up with energy tonight as he will get double-shifted on the fourth line all night and the Devils are dressing 7 d guys.
IF the Devils come out flat tonight and get run out of the building, having the next 3 days off might not be a good thing if your last name is MacLean.