The 11th place Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Rock for the final time this season. The Devils lead the season series 2-1 with both wins coming in Tampa Bay, which seems like a common theme this season. How many teams have we split the season series with this season? Tampa Bay is basically out of the playoffs, which having played in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, having taken Boston to 7 games in that final and losing game 7 by a score of 1-0, that’s a LONG way to fall. But, don’t be fooled, Tampa Bay can still bring it and they certainly have a player that knows how to score. Steve Stamkos has found the back of the net 55 times this season and in his short 4 year career, has found it 174 times. Remember when Barry Melrose refused to put this guy on the ice?? This game tonight is by no means an easy one for the Devils.
The Devils are back to shuffling the lines to try and find something that sparks them. I think we can all agree that the Devils have lost something over the last 2 weeks and line shuffling at this point isn’t a bad idea in order to find chemistry for the playoffs. Tonight’s line look to be:
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Steve Bernier
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Which means Larsson is sitting again and Volchenkov is healthy enough to return.
Here are some other things to discuss going into tonight’s game:
- The Devils could clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win and a Capitals loss.” 3, oh it’s the magic number, yes it is, it’s the magic number!!”
- The Devils need to find their offense. Shots haven’t been a problem but a lack of actual scoring has. Both Kovalchuk and Parise have 2 goals over the last 5 games and Clarkson has a big ol’ goose egg in the goal department over the last 5 games.
- The defense was better (not great) against the Blackhawks. Hopefully, improvement continues tonight. The Devils had conceded at least four goals in four of their last five games going into the Blackhawks game but only gave up 1 to Chicago. But lets be honest, the Devils made a lot of mistakes and Brodeur won them a game that they didn’t really have any business winning.
Whenever we play the Lightning, especially this time of year, I can’t help but think back to that game in the 2003 playoffs where Grant Marshall sent the Devils to the next round with a goal in triple overtime. That game is also considered one of Doc’s greatest moments…