After a big win on Friday night, the Devils kick off a three game road trip tonight against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins, who beat the Devils 4-1 on October 16th, are looking to rebound after a 2-0 loss on Saturday night to the Ottawa Senators. Tonight (like most games) is a big one for the Devils as they need to gain some ground on their Eastern Conference opponents.
Lately, the offense seems to be clicking. The Devils have scored four goals in each of their last two games and a big reason for their success has been crashing the net and capitalizing on their power-play opportunities. Tonight they will face Tim Thomas (8-1, 1.45 GAA, .957 SV%) who seems to have regained his Vezina Trophy winning style of play, that he lost from injury last season. To have success against Thomas, the Devils need to generate a lot of traffic in front. Players like Zubrus, Arnott and Clarkson have to drive to the net and get in Thomas’ face. The Devils need to build off their recent success and continue to work the puck down low and wear the defense out. A line that seems to set the pace for cycling down low with success is the Zubrus-Clarkson –Rolston line. If this line can chip in with some secondary scoring, it will certainly take away the pressure of the Kovalchuk line.
Look for the Arnott-Elias-Tedenby line to continue its great play. With Langenbrunner out again, Vasyunov will be back with Zajac and Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk, whose lone shot on net was the game winner still needs to be quicker with his decisions. He had several opportunities to shoot and that slight hesitation caused the shot to be blocked or deflected away. I hope MacLean is in his ear to shoot and shoot from everywhere because when he gets his shoots through, he’s deadly.
Two of the three goals Friday night came off of miscues and other than that, the defense was solid all game. Volchenkov and Green are becoming the anchors of the D. Greene who led the team in minute’s back to back games has been a key to solidifying the defense and Volchenkov is continuing to bring a physical presence and shot blocker ability to the blue line.
Young Matt Taormina hurt his ankle in practice yesterday and will be out for tonight’s game. Like Andrew posted earlier, a few days off may do him some good as he seems to be struggling as of late. In place of Taorimina, Matt Corrente returns from injury.
I look for Olivier Magnan to rebound after a shaky game on Friday night. Magnan was up the previous night while his wife gave birth to a baby boy. Magnan has been a pleasant surprise and solid addition to our defense.
Power-play has produced the last two games and there is no reason why they shouldn’t continue. There is too much talent to think otherwise. I like how MacLean has divided the two units and has kept Kovalchuk on only one PP line.
The penalty kill has been solid and guys like Pelley and Mair have been great logging valuable PK minutes.
It’s another must win for the Devils and veterans like Elias, Arnott, Volchenkov and Brodeur have to set the tone early for the team tonight. I will stick with my prediction from my previous post and say the Devils will win and start a winning streak to get them back in the playoff picture.
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