Tonight at the Rock the New Jersey Devils will try and keep their miracle run towards the playoff alive as the face the Atlanta Thrashers. These two teams, both fighting for the last playoff spots in the East, met four days ago where the Devils prevailed to a 3-2 overtime victory. Since then the Devils beat the Islanders and the Thrashers defeated the Flyers both games ending in overtime.
Around the NHL several games have playoff implications as the race is tightening up.
Besides the Devils and Thrashers game, the New York Rangers host the New York Islanders and the Carolina Hurricane visit the Buffalo Sabres. The Devils and their fans will be scoreboard watching hoping for a Hurricane and Islander victory. If the Devils win in regulation they will tie Atlanta and Toronto with 70 points and jump up to 10th place due to tie breakers. Leaving them 6 points out of the last two playoff spots.
Over the last fifteen games fourteen of them have been decided by one goal. Travis Zajac recorded the OT winner in Atlanta and Annsi Salmela won the game in OT Saturday night against the Islanders. So who will be the hero tonight for New Jersey?
Ilya Kovalchuk leads the team with nine game winning goals and is as hot as any player right now registering 7 points in his last 6 games. Patrick Elias leads the team in points and is second with five game winners. The young line of Mattias Tedenby (2A), Jacob Josefson (1G, 1A) and David Clarkson (1G, 1A) each contributed against the Islanders.
If the young trio can start adding some offense it will take a lot of the pressure of the Kovalchuk and Elias lines. One thing the Devils are lacking is offense and the young line can add a much needed spark.
Tonight Travis Zajac will tie Ken Daneyko’s franchise record of consecutive games played at 388. Zajac has been one of the top 2 center-man for New Jersey since breaking into the league in 2006-07 season. Drafted 20th overall in the 2004 Entry draft, Zajac is usually paired with Zach Parise, but like most Devils, struggled early in the season especially when Parise went down with a knee injury. But now paired with another all-star left winger, Kovalchuk, Zajac has found his scoring touch with 12 goals and 28 assists totaling 40 points. Zajac is the prototypical Devil, does his job, works hard and no one ever hears an any of issues coming from him. Quietly, Travis Zajac is becoming a great Devil.