The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (45-26-7) at the Atlanta Thrashers (34-32-13)
The Last Devils Game: The Devils beat a pretty lifeless Carolina Hurricanes teams. Jamie Langenbrunner and Paul Martin got the night off. The offense that was struggling going into the Canes matchup walked away with 4 goals and the win and a shutout.
The Last Thrashers Game: The Thrashers went into Pitt really needing 2 points to help them sneak into the playoffs but only walked away with 1 point. Pitt tied the game late in the 3rd and won it in OT on a Leopold goal. Thrashers did play a very good game but they need all the wins they can get now.
The Last Thrashers/Devils Game: Last time they met, no one dreamed Kovalchuk would be on our side when this one came around!! Devils won 3-2 on goals from Parise (2) and Colin White.
Tonight's Matchup: Thrashers are in a Game 7, back against the walls, must win kind of mode right now. They trail the Flyers by 3 points for the 8th spot and only have 3 games remaining. Here comes Ilya Kovalchuk to try and slam the door shut on his former team. I don't think the Thrashers wrote out this scenario when they traded him to NJ on Feb 4th. I would imagine that Atlanta is going to come out pumped for this one because the players and fans what to show the world they can suceed without Kovalchuk and maybe do so over Kovalchuk.
The Devils are in the playoffs, that much is guarenteed. What spot they own once they start next week is up in the air. Every night it seems different so the Devils mentality has to be to just keeping doing. I would much rather play a limping Boston Bruins squad than the Ottawa Senators right now.
How the Devils played the other night vs Carolina is exactly how they have to approach tonight's game. Lemiare has said, even though we are in a fight for #2 overall, he may rest more of his regulars tonight. No, Marty will not be one of those getting rest tonight.
I think this game is going to be a little on the intense side because of Kovalchuk returning and the Thrashers playoff hopes. The Devils can't afford to look at this game as an easy game otherwise they won't come away with the W. The Devils have struggled lately against teams fighting for playoff spots but lets hope tonight is a different story and that they can in fact shut the door on Atlanta.