Game 82 Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. The Ottawa Senators

The Time: 3:00 PM EDT

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - 660 AM WFAN

The Game: The New Jersey Devils (47-28-6) vs. the Ottawa Senators (41-30-10)

The Last Devils Game: In a game where the ice was tilted against them, the Devils eeked out a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. It was the Devils' first victory in Detroit since 1996 (but hey, let's not forget some victories there in 1995) and their fifth victory in a row. Petr Sykora, putting an exclamation point on a fantastic story, notched his 20th goal of the year (and 6th game winning goal) to put the Devils ahead for good halfway through the third period. Martin Brodeur was sharp in net (especially when his team turned the puck over) to get to the 30 win mark on the year. John's recap of the game is here. For the Red Wings' point of view on the game, check out Winging it in Motown.

The Last Senators Game: Well technically the Senators played on Thursday night, but considering they were playing a Boston team that rested Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas, and Patrice Bergeron it's an open question as to whether or not they showed up. Ottawa lost to the Bruins 3-1 in what Senators fans hope is not a preview of things to come as Ottawa and Boston are likely, though not definite, to meet in the playoffs. (Personally I hope the Senators play the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. They are a team that can give the Rangers some trouble.) The recap of the Sens/Bruins game by Peter Raaymakers at SBN site SilverSevenSens.com can be viewed here.

The Last Devils vs. Senators Game: Now that the Devils are safely in the playoffs and on a five game winning streak, we can easily forget that four weeks ago the Devils played an important game (at least from the 'sky is falling' fans perspective) vs. the Ottawa Senators. The Devils came into that game losing three out of four games, scoring only four total goals during that time.

Luck was on the Devils side that night though. Senators captain Jason Spezza missed the game which hurt the Ottawa offense. Even though they tallied up 34 shots, they still didn't have many scoring opportunities. The Devils weren't doing much on their offensive side of the ice either. Ottawa goalie Ben Bishop was stuffing Devils attempts at every turn, but finally the Devils were able to get one past Bishop early in the third period courtesy of an Ilya Kovalchuk power play goal. (You can see a great review of that goal by Talking Red's David Sarch here.)

The recap of that game by Peter Raaymakers at SBN site SilverSevenSens.com can be viewed here. Kevin's recap of the game can be read here.

The Goal: The Devils are locked into the sixth seed. They await Florida and Washington to figure out who actually wants to win the Southeast Division before they will know who they play. So essentially this game means little to the Devils season or future in the playoffs. That said, the Devils are on a five game winning streak and are playing in front of their home crowd so I expect a solid effort.

So what should the goal be for this game? First, roll four lines and three defensive pairings despite the score. No need to over exert your top players. Second, no fighting. If David Clarkson breaks his hand in a stupid fight with Zenon Konopka my head will explode. Third, let Adam Larsson play.

I touch upon some additional items for this afternoon's game after the jump. For the opposition's point of view, visit SilverSevenSens.com.

Free Larsson: I understood the benching of Larsson at first. He struggled since his return and had been making some poor decisions. He's a 19 year old rookie, playing the toughest position/role to break in at, so I expected some growing pains. Mistakes by a defenseman are amplified by 1000 and it was clear he needed to take a step back and clear his head. Again, I understood why this was happening. For it to still be happening at this point is rather frustrating for me and I am sure it's frustrating for Larsson. But despite his injuries and recent benchings, Larsson still leads Devils defensemen in points with 18.

Larsson, who has played more games this year than he had in any SEL season, needs to be in the lineup today. A healthy scratch for the past five games, it's time he get a chance to sharpen his game in case he is needed for the playoffs. And in my opinion, even with his struggles the Devils should look to use him in the playoffs instead of Peter Harrold. We should hear an update on Larsson's status early tomorrow morning.

Milestones: After Petr Sykora scored his 20th goal Thursday night and Brodeur getting his 30th win there aren't too many statistical milestones to root for this afternoon. Perhaps Dainius Zubrus pulls off a hat trick to get himself to 20 goals? Other than that unlikely event, perhaps Eric Boulton can be on the ice for a Devils goal. Now that would be something.

A Moose Sighting? Tom Gulitti has already confirmed that Martin Brodeur is starting this afternoon. Is it possible that Brodeur is replaced by Hedberg for half the game or a period? It would seem unlikely but it would be nice, from a fan's perspective, to break out the Moose calls one more time at home this year.

Shootout Request: If the game should go to a shootout, how can the Devils deny the great shootout skills of Cam Janssen a chance at the Ottawa goalie? Simply put...they can't. Let CamJan show his skills, Devils.

Will we have a Moose sighting tonight? Will Larsson play? What are you looking for in this afternoon's game? Please leave your thoughts about tonight's game in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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