The Devils, who are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now, who are 8-1-1 in their last 10 play host to the NHL's hottest team, the San Jose Sharks who are 9-0-1 in their last 10. The difference between these two teams, one will be playing in April while the other, in my opinion will not be.
I want to touch on something that the guys over at Puck Daddy already touched upon but its a big topic so it is important to discuss. Why are we looking at the Devils like they are a team who has a shot at the playoffs? I get it, we play the games for a reason, crazier things have happened, etc. Look at Leafs fans, they seem to understand that their Maple Leafs aren't going to be making the playoffs this season and that is a team currently sitting in front of the Devils by 6 points.
Statistically, the Devils have a 1% chance at finishing 11th overall in the conference, meaning that a shot at the 8th and final spot is a pipe dream. It doesn't mean we should stop talking about the Devils, stop watching the Devils or even stop praising them for mounting comebacks like they have in the past two games, it just means that we need to stop in game updates on the Carolina Hurricanes. It's not late April and we aren't trailing them by a few points, so please lets just stop.
My hope for the rest of the season is that the Devils continue to play exciting hockey and move up the standings as much as possible, this way it keeps the fans motivated. The draft this year is looking to be weak so a #1 pick for me isn't of much interest. In fact, I would like the Devils to move up in the standings as much as they can and pay the piper this summer for their Kovalchuk penalty they received from the league. This way, we are done with it.
So, lets focus on tonight's game.
The Devils Last Game: Last night they beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 in OT on a Kovalchuk wrister. There are few players in this league that have a wicked wrister in their arsenal but lucky for NJ, Kovalchuk has it, when he wants to have it.
The Sharks Last Game: The Sharks knocked off the Blue Jackets 3-2. The Sharks were down 2-0 after the first but mounted the comeback which saw 2 goals in the second and the game winner in the third.
Players To Watch: For the Devils, it has to be Kovalchuk. He's been on fire lately and brings a 6-game point streak to The Rock tonight. For the Sharks, it has to be Antti Niemi wh has allowed just two goals in the Sharks' last three games.
Tonight's Game: Devils MUST avoid penalties tonight. It's never ok to make a lot of trips to the box but when you do it vs a team that is ranked 22 overall on the PP, it something that can be overcome. The Sharks on the other hand, rank 4th. They WILL kill you if you make 7 trips to the box.
I worry about the energy for tonights game. This is the Devils 3rd game in 4 days and with Marty still nursing a knee injury, its very possible that we will see Hedberg in goal again tonight. On top of that Andy Greene saw 29:07 of total ice time last night while 6 other Devils players so 20+ minutes as well.
With no time to practice, I can't imagine that they will be much different than last night.
Line 1 Dainius Zubrus - Patrik Elias - Brian Rolston
Line 2 Illya Kovalchuk - Travis Zajac - Nick Palmieri
Line 3 Vladimir Zharkov - Jason Arnott - Mattias Tedenby
Line 4 Adam Mair - Rod Pelley - David Clarkson
Line 1 Andy Greene - Anssi Salmela
Line 2 Mark Fraser - Henrik Tallinder
Line 3 Colin White - Mark Fayne