Game 81: Devils @ Ottawa Senators

OK. The Devils have won exactly one road game since March 3; they lost 7 of their last 9; and the last loss was pretty heinous to watch. Still, the Devils just need one point to clinch the Atlantic and one win to set a franchise record in wins in a season.  They are 22-15-3 on the road this season, heading into their final road game.

The Senators will not make the playoffs, but they have won their last nine home games.  They are coming off a close 3-2 win over Boston, their coach Cory Clouston now has a new deal, and the team isn't sleeping through the end of their season. They are 22-15-6 at home this season.

Sigh.

Honestly, I don't have a whole lot to point out other than that the Devils need to keep Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, and Jason Spezza quiet.  It may sound cliche at this point, but the threesome are fearsome and productive.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Dany Heatley 80 38 33 71 -10 84 15 0 6 0 249 15.3


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Daniel Alfredsson 78 24 50 74 7 20 8 1 3 0 203 11.8


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Jason Spezza 80 31 40 71 -12 77 12 1 3 1 240 12.9

To learn more about the Senators, who are making a run at home that would have been better in, say, January, visit Silver Seven.   They are also your source if you love to see someone reward players for defeating their rivals with game winning goals.

Now, if the defense is as preventative as they were against Toronto and more reactive like they were against Buffalo, then that would be ideal.  On the offensive side of things, the Devils just need to finish chances.  If there's a 90% of a net open, then shoot at it.  Alex Auld does not need to be the next Martin Gerber; he should be forced to make quick decisions more so than catch the puck at his chest. Goals don't need to be pretty or perfectly set up across ice or through screens; they just need to get in the net - they all count the same.

Here's an interesting bit though, according to Gulitti, Patrik Elias and Niclas Havelid didn't practice - but Elias made the trip up to Ottawa.  He's now a "game-day decision," according to Sutter in Gulitti's post.  The offense could definitely use his flair and the defense could use his responsible backchecking.  If he's feeling fine, by all means, let him see 16-18 minutes of icetime and let him do his thing.  I don't think he's necessary like the ZZ Pops unit having a good game, but Elias is welcome all the same.   I think if he plays, Jay Pandolfo probably sits and the lines on the sidebar make more sense.

At this point, I think I speak for the fanbase when I say that the Devils just need to get a win.  It won't be easy, it may not be pretty, but earning a two point result is more important than anything else at this point. It'll ease the fears of the fans, build confidence among the players, and finally clinch that 8th division title.  Please make it happen, Devils.

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