The New Jersey Devils close out the regular season against two very good hockey teams, both of which will be playing in the postseason. Tonight, the Devils make their final road trip of the regular season and visit a place that hasn’t been so kind to them in recent years. Detroit isn’t a team we play very often and this will be the only regular season matchup against them this season but Detroit is 6-0-1 in the last seven meetings with NJ. They also lead the season series 40-34-1 but I will just mention that NJ is a perfect 4-0 against the Red Wings in the postseason. (Yes Wings fans, I went there!!)
Both teams have clinched a ticket to the post season and both are just battling for position at this point. NJ can’t fall into 7th place in the East but they do have a shot, a long shot at moving up in the standings. We only trail Philadelphia by 3 points with 4 points left on the table. A win by Philadelphia tonight will clinch 5th place for them.
Injury Report: New Jersey's Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) is still out, while fourth-line center Jacob Josefson fractured his wrist against the Isles on Tuesday. David Clarkson also missed the Islanders game with a lower-body injury, but practiced on Wednesday and is expected to play against the Wings. … Center Darren Helm (sprained knee), Joey MacDonald (back) and Patrick Eaves (concussion) are out for the Red Wings.
This will probably be the line combinations that we see for the Devils tonight.
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
I’m not really concerned with the Devils winning or losing tonight. Like I mentioned, Ottawa can’t catch us and if we catch Philly, the prize is Pittsburgh in round 1, which no one wants. I’m more concerned with the little things like:
- Can the Devils be smart with the puck or do the Devils try and go for the big cross-ice pass like they did against the Islanders?
- Can the Devils finish the scoring chances they get or will they leave the puck on the doorstep?
- Can the Devils get their power play some momentum going into the playoffs?
- Can NJ play disciplined hockey and keep out of the box?
- Can the defense play shutdown hockey against a premiere player of the national hockey league?
I already gave the Detroit fans a little reminder of 1995 and we don’t really need to visit that here. Everyone knows NJ swept Detroit and it always seems to get mentioned when these two teams play. The funny thing is, there are only two people on the ice tonight that were on the ice for that series, Lidstrom for Detroit and Brodeur for NJ but if you watch this Red Wings ad, you will notice they use a little Marty Brodeur guy in their break the ice game. Despite all the success that the Red Wings have had since 1995, I guess that loss still screams at the organization.