The all-of-the-sudden red hot scoring machine that is the New Jersey Devils play host to the season’s done/not much left to play for New York Islanders tonight at The Rock. Here’s the thing, when it comes to the Islanders this season, we’ve played some real stinkers. Here’s a fact that you might not know, that won’t make you feel good about tonight. 3 times this season the Devils have scored 6 goals in a game and 3 times that 6 goal game was followed up by a 5 goal game, most recently last week against Tampa Bay and then Carolina on Saturday. The previous 2 6 goal game then 5 goal games were followed up by a 1 goal game, 1 which we lost 4-1 to the Rangers on 12/16 and one that we beat the Rangers 1-0 on 2/7. SO, if I am a betting man, we are only putting 1 puck in the net tonight. Come on Hedburg, we need to keep every puck out of the net.
This will be the final meeting between the Islanders and the Devils this season. The Devils lead the season series 3-2 but those 2 losses to the Islanders this season have been memorable, at least in my mind.
Word is that Clarkson will be out of the lineup tonight as a precaution, he missed Monday’s practice and Larsson will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game, more on that in a minute. Hedburg will get the start.
Injury Report: The Devils are still without defenseman Henrik Tallinder (blood clot). … Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury.
These are the probable lines for NJ.
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
Some of the other things I will be looking at tonight:
- The Devils clinched a playoff spot but they are still battling the Ottawa Senators for 6th place. With 3 games to play, NJ leads Ottawa by 4 points but the two teams face off on Saturday to close out the regular season. A win tonight is HUGE and a must.
- As I mentioned already, NJ has had three 6 goal games this season followed up by three 5 goals games followed up by 2 stinkers when it comes to offense. Hopefully the offense doesn’t dry up all of the sudden but the good news is that Montoya is getting the start, not Nilsson who we’ve struggled against in 2 games this season.
- Tonight will be career game #500 for Zach Parise. That is unbelievable. How did he get to 500 already even missing most of last season?
- As for Larsson, I’m actually surprised that he’s been scratched this much. I could see a game or two but three is a big worry for me. What is it doing to his confidence, how will he be if he ever returns this season? It’s almost too much for me at this time of year. If you sit for 3 straight in Dec/Jan ok, who cares but playoff push hockey and you’re getting the healthy scratch time and time again, maybe you get to be a spectator until next season. I’m just afraid if he comes back he will be afraid to make a mistake and come the playoffs, the last thing I want is a defenseman who is tentative with the puck. Maybe I am alone in my thinking but I say sit him until October. Who’s with me?
I thought this was a great article on the joke that has become the New York Islanders. They have some great players in their history but it seems as if they want to wipe Pat Lafontaine from their history. Having grown up a hockey fan in the United States in the early 80’s, Pat LaFontaine was pretty much a role model because he was succeeding in a game that was dominated by Canadian’s. Read the article, it’s a good one!!