Game 80 Preview- New Jersey Devils vs Toronto Maple Leafs

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TSN (HD), MSG Plus (HD)

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (36-37-5) vs the Toronto Maple Leafs (37-32-10)

The Last Devils Game: The Devils made a few big errors which the Penguins cashed in on, but they put up a hell of a fight and took it to the Pens until the end. Unfortunately, the Devils lost 4-2. John has a recap of the game here.

The Last Maple Leafs Game: The Leafs saw their playoff hopes destroyed by the Sabres before losing to the Capitals in the shootout 3-2. PPP has a recap of the game here.

The Last Devils- Maple Leafs Game: The last time these two teams was nearly two months ago in February. The Devils won 2-1 in overtime thanks to Ilya Kovalchuk, as well as a 32 save performance from Johan Hedberg. John has a recap of the game here, while PPP praised Nikolai Kulemin and James Reimer's play despite the loss.

The Goal: Keep calm and get shots on net. The latter might be the easiest- the Leafs gave up 41 shots last night, and the last time these two teams met, the Devils got 39 shots off. Of the Devils 24 shots last night, 10 came in the final period. As for the former, you've got to look at both teams and what they have left to play for. The Devils have their pride and dignity to play for, while the Leafs are playing to give the proverbial "finger" to the Bruins, who own their first round draft pick. The Devils don't have anything tangible to play for, while the Leafs do- which would be improving in the standings so the Bruins end up with a worse pick. Ergo keeping calm should help them capitalize on mistakes the Leafs might make if they show some desperation here and there.

More thoughts and perspectives from tonight's game after the jump. Check out Pension Plan Puppets for a Leafs based perspective on tonight's action.

The last time these two teams met, the Devils faced off against rookie netminder and revelation James Reimer. His nickname, Optimus Reim (which might be one of my favourite hockey nicknames) is quite fitting- as he's transformed the goaltending situation in Toronto from sieve-like to NHL caliber goaltending. His play has inspired many tributes- from a transformers themed video, to spoofs of Eminem Songs (ones without swearing too!) and even a parody of a terrible internet phenomenon. There's a chance he will be in net tonight, but seeing as the Leafs just played last night there will also be a chance that the Devils see the struggling J.S. Giguere- something the Devils would love to see.


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - James Reimer 34 1915 20 8 81 2.54 1038 957 .922 3


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Jean-Sebastien Giguere 32 1614 11 11 78 2.90 766 688 .898 0


As for the Devils, Martin Brodeur should be starting tonight, as Gulitti reported that Lemaire plans on splitting duties between the two goalies for the last few games.  Seeing as there's a big gap between this game and the next game, it won't affect whether or not Brodeur starts Saturday against the Rags. While Hedberg did make some mistakes in net, Brodeur might not have the same problems. The team might be able to generate some more offense with Brodeur's ability to play the puck, which is a good thing.

Offensively, the Leafs have quite a few weapons on both up front and on the blueline


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Phil Kessel 79 30 32 62 -20 24 11 1 6 313


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Mikhail Grabovski 78 29 29 58 15 60 10 0 4 235


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Nikolai Kulemin 79 30 27 57 9 24 4 1 5 170


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Clarke MacArthur 79 21 41 62 -2 37 6 0 3 154


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Dion Phaneuf 63 8 22 30 0 86 3 0 1 181


While Phil Kessel might be the biggest player here name-wise, the Devils also need to watch out for the trio of Grabovski, Kulemin and MacArthur as well. Spending a lot of energy shutting down Kessel only to have Kulemin or Grabovski burn them would be bad news. Dion Phaneuf's registered 12 of his 30 points in March, and has been a much better player both offensively and defensively.  The Devils defense, who will likely be without Colin White and Anton Volchenkov again, will be up for a challenge tonight.

One of the weaknesses the Leafs have is their special teams. They have a miserable pk% of 77.9%, and a pretty bad power play, which is clicking to the tune of 15.9%. However, they don't fare that badly at evens- they rank 13th in the league when it comes to even strength goals. If the Devils can avoid some of the Leafs' truculent extra-curricular activities and draw a few penalties, they might be able to shift the momentum a bit and take away scoring chances from the Leafs.

From some of the post game tweets, there was a lot of praise thrown towards the two young Swedes, Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson. Jacques Lemaire said Tedenby was the best player for the Devils last night, while Brian Rolston considered Josefson a great player for a long time to come. Seeing as these two played quite well last night, i'd expect them to get rewarded for their play last night. As for Lemaire, he said that the performance was an improvement from Saturday's stinker against Montreal. While a tough loss where the team didn't buckle under pressure is an improvement, the Devils should try and build on the positives and avoid dwelling on the negatives, especially seeing as they'd like to go into a big game on a high note.

As for the Zach Parise watch, Lemaire says that Parise isn't a lock to play tonight. It might be a good thing, seeing as the Leafs do boast some hard hitting players on their team and it might be wise to hold him out against them. Although seeing as the Devils have quite a few games off before their next game, I'd like to see him in action again tonight.

One thought about the defense- Mark Fraser struggled a lot last night- he was burned on the first goal, and didn't have a great game. Seeing as the Defense could use some reinforcements, I wonder if the Devils will consider recalling Alex Urbom to replace him tonight. He's played 7 games this season, so if he plays another he won't have a year burned off his ELC/slide years. He might be inexperienced, but i'd like to see what he learned playing with Albany this season. Additionally, I don't think it will hurt the team. Like I said, the Devils have nothing tangible to play for. Might as well give Urbom another shot to showcase himself, seeing as Albany isn't going to the playoffs. Plus it gives the team a fresh defenseman for tonight's game.

As for tonight's game, what are your concerns? Feel free to leave your thoughts on tonight's game in the comments. Lets go Devils!

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