This game preview is for the second game of the home and home with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils played them last night, so this preview will mainly be about what the Devils need to improve on, as well as the different matchup in net.
The Time: 7:30 PM
The Broadcast: TV:
Versus NBCSN, Radio: WFAN 660 AM
The TiqIQ Ticket Link: If you're thinking about going to today's game in Pittsburgh, then you should consider visiting our partners at TiqIQ to get some seats off the secondary market. Here's a link: New Jersey Devils tickets.
The Last Devils Game, The Last Penguins Game and The Last Devils-Penguins Game (Otherwise known as the Three Sections for the Price of One, Just look at the Value!): The Penguins got off to a good start thanks to an early
Tyler Kennedy Simon Despres goal. However, it went downhill from there and the wheels came off. The Devils momentum kept growing and growing thanks to the Penguins inability to stay out of the box, until Stefan Matteau converted on a sweet pass by Andy Greene. Then the floodgates opened, leading to goals from Adam Henrique and Bobby Butler, the Devils took a 3-1 lead and held on to that lead all the way to the end. John wrote a recap of how well the Devils played (and how the Penguins took a lot of penalties), while James Conley wasn't too happy with how his team wanted to play the entire game 5 on 4 in his recap at Pensburgh.
The Goal: The two Devils-Penguins games this season have shown one weak point on the Penguins- their lack of discipline. Whether they're leading or trailing, at some point they'll do something stupid, or just lose control of their emotions. The goal for the Devils- just play hockey, frustrate the Pens and let the refs do the rest of the work. And most importantly, don't participate in the Penguins' shenanigans and let them take the penalties. When the Penguins aren't taking penalties and controlling play, they're unstoppable. But when they're taking penalties, they're giving other teams a clear shot at their Achilles heel. David Clarkson's early penalty and the resulting power play goal was the only blemish on a strong performance yesterday afternoon.
The Young Guns are Shooting: The Devils played great last night- although one thing to note was the fact that the Pens did manage to silence the Devils big guns like Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, the Devils youngsters stepped up and came through. Stefan Matteau tied the game up. Adam Henrique scored the game winner. Bobby Butler scored an insurance marker and tacked on an assist. Adam Larsson played well against Sidney Crosby and assisted on Matteau's goal. It's great that the Devils got a performance like that from them tonight- of course, they're gonna need everyone to step up if they want to make a statement by beating the top team in the east twice (and on national TV nonetheless). Maybe 23 and 26 have some better puck luck and they play a bit better. Regardless, those two will have to be a factor.
DEFENSE! DEFENSE! DEFENSE!: You know who did play great? The defense. Mark Fayne and Bryce Salvador did well against the always deadly Evgeni Malkin, while Andy Greene and Adam Larsson combined for 3 points and shut down the Penguins other big center (you know, that guy they're gonna be talking about all night tonight). Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov weren't terrible and had solid games. If the defense can keep it up, we'll see more "frustrated Sidney Crosby that acts like a sore loser" rather than "absurdly talented Sidney Crosby that scores on you repeatedly".
Swapping Goalies: The game will be different tonight in the sense that both teams are going to be playing their backup goalies. TG reported that Johan Hedberg will be in net tonight, while the Penguins will be putting their better of the two goalies, Tomas Vokoun. He's a lot better than Fleury, which means that the Devils might not be able to say, catch him out of position like Andy Greene and Stefan Matteau did for their first goal or how Adam Henrique nearly got a goal in the second. But just remember, Johan Hedberg has been pretty good so far- lets just hope he can bring it against a tough team.
Russian Machine Never Stops: Ilya Kovalchuk played 30 minutes of ice time. 15 minutes of PP time helped, but regardless he might be a bit tired tonight. DeBoer's leaned on him heavily this season and he has been coming through (albeit mainly on special teams). Still, if he can truck through another tough game in which he'll be relied on to play lots of minutes, he'll get a nice break before the next game. This also ties into my previous point- everyone needs to step up if they want to keep being called "the first place New Jersey Devils"
No Disrespect: The Penguins played badly yesterday. Dan Bylsma is definitely aware of that and is probably rallying the troops and telling them that they can be way better. The Devils played great, but the Pens didn't play their best game. The Devils should go into tonight's game expecting a different Penguins team. We're probably not going to see all the bad penalties coming out tonight (well, unless the Devils get in the Pens head again), but we will likely see a more motivated Evgeni Malkin (who won't spend all game trying to smash Stephen Gionta into oblivion), a James Neal sighting (or two) and in general, a better Pens team.
Lineup Notes: Dainius Zubrus is out again, so it looks like the lines are the same, albeit with some juggling in the middle of the game. Other than Hedberg starting, there aren't any changes with the lineup. I'm guessing that Kris Letang won't play tonight, which means the Devils should have a somewhat easier time against the Pens without their top defenseman.
With all that being said, how do you feel about the Devils chances of keeping the streak alive and solidifying their place as the best team in the East. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Go Devils.