Game 25 Preview: New Jersey Devils at Winnipeg Jets

The Time: 7:00 PM EDT

The Broadcast: TV - MSG PLUS, CBC; Radio - 660 AM WFAN

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (12-10-1) at the Winnipeg Jets (10-11-4)

The Last Devils - Jets Games: A very exciting game at the Rock four weeks ago if I remember correctly. After a scoreless first period and a goaltending battle brewing, the Devils jumped to a 2-0 lead with odd man rush goals by Patrik Elias (a 2-on-1) and Adam Henrique (breakaway 1.0). Mark Flood made it interesting scoring early in the 3rd period and Jim Slater tied it up with 2:45 remaining in regulation even though Anton Volchenkov was ripped down (no call) right before the goal. Classic 3rd period Devils in retrospect. After an event-less Devils powerplay (classic Devils once again) that carried over into overtime, Zach Parise fed Adam Henrique for his second goal of the game for breakaway 2.0. Here's John's recap of the 3-2 Overtime Devils win.

The Last Devils Game: I wrote the preview before the Devils - Wild game and I will update it.

The Last Jets Game: The new Winnipeg Jets played the old Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre Thursday night. Bryan Little scored the only goal of the game in the first period and with the help of some magic pucks, Ondrej Pavelec got the shutout. The Jets beat the Phoenix Coyotes 1-0. Bettman's Nightmare has the recap for Arctic Ice Hockey.

The Goal: The goal obviously is to win - but more importantly - win with a solid 60-minute effort. They played a game last night yet the Devils record for the second half of back-to-back games isn't that bad (3-2-0). The Jets will have a full day of rest. They can't be sluggish; they can't start slow, becuase they will fall behind quickly. The Jets have a knack for scoring (and/or letting up goals) early in the game. If the Devils start off fast with a strong forecheck and solid defense, they may be the team to jump out ahead. Thus a 60 minute effort to avoid any comebacks (like the last time these teams played) is ideal.

I have a little more after the jump.

After the Jets lost to the Devils in the beginning of November, they lost four more games in a row. Since then, they are 5-2-1.They are pushing to get back to 0.500. The Devils are avoiding getting pushed to 0.500. Both teams are close in points (Devils with a few more, and a game in hand) yet Winnipeg has the tied breaker for ROW. Yes it's early to start talking about the playoff picture, but it's something to put into considering when you're playing teams in your conference.

They put up 28 goals in that 8-game span while only letting up 22. Yes they only put up one goal and didn't let up any in their last game but these are some high scoring games. They rank 11th in goal forced per game yet 25th in goals against per game. The Devils have been good in shootouts, but not really in these type of shootouts. They either have to start playing better defense to eliminate a high scoring game or their offense has to start putting up goals again to compete in a high scoring effort.

In terms of Fenwick percentage at 5-on-5, the Jets aren't nearly as bad as the Wild when tied; they have a 48.62%. The Devils are at 50.51% (not counting last night's game). The Jets are right above the 50% mark and right above the Devils in "close" situations. They score and give up roughly the same amount at 5-on-5 as well (2.7 per 60). They average over 30 shots per 60 and give up 29.5 shots per 60. Their opposition save percentage is 0.914 (so they shoot 8.6%) and their save percentage is 0.908 at 5-on-5.

If I were the Devils - I would try to get as many shots on net. Too many times in the game against the Avalanche did they hit shins and skates and bodies. If they see an open shot on net - take it.

Courtesy of Left Wing Lock - we can see the most used Jets lines for the past three games. Their line up is a little top heavy with some injuries they have sustained. Their top line is no secret though - Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane, and Bryan Little.

Player GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG SOG PCT
Evander Kane 24 12 7 19 2 23 3 0 2 93 12.90%
Bryan Little 25 7 7 14 0 8 2 0 1 56 12.50%
Blake Wheeler 25 2 12 14 6 16 1 0 0 58 3.45%

Here's their second line:

Player GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG SOG PCT
Kyle Wellwood 25 7 10 17 -1 2 2 0 0 32 21.88%
Andrew Ladd 25 8 5 13 -3 19 1 0 3 76 10.53%
Alexander Burmistrov 25 5 8 13 3 16 1 0 0 47 10.64%

In the Jets last game - they matched power for power with their top lines going up Phoenix's top lines. I would expect them to do this against New Jersey as well. I would love for Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk to begin racking up points and goals. But I think this game has a good opportunity for the Devils third line to get some goals. Clarkson has calmed down recently and Tedenby has yet to net a goal. Tonight gives them a chance to change that.

Though Dustin Byfuglien takes a lot of shots - he's been giving up a lot of pucks on turnovers. I would like the Devils to take advantage of this and when he's on the ice, have the forwards forecheck deep. It may lead to a golden turnover and some chances and hopefully a goal or two.

Since Marty got the nod last night, Johan Hedberg aka Mooooose will start tonight. DeBoer has stated many times he will split the starts during back-to-backs. He shut out the Islanders in his last game. He'll be fine if he stays in the net.

A little history: This will be the first time the Devils see MTS Centre and downtown Winnipeg since December 19th, 1995. The Devils lost that game 5-3 thanks to Keith Tkachuk and Teemu Selanne. Two current Devils actually played in the game. Martin Brodeur stopped 33 of 37 shots and Petr Sykora netted two goals and an assist. So there's that...

That's my preview on the game. What's your take on the tonight's game? What are looking forward to? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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