After losing each game of a three game road trip in either overtime or a shootout, the New Jersey Devils will skate against the New York Islanders tonight at 7:00 at the Prudential Center. Here’s a closer look at tonight’s contest.
New York Islanders
Not too many people would expect the Islanders to be tied for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with only 13 games remaining. They are currently tied with the New York Rangers for eighth place, but tie-breakers put them in ninth place. So, how have they gotten to this point?
John Tavares and Matt Moulson have led the Islanders offensively this season. Tavares, the Isles’ leading goal scorer, has netted 21 goals and has registered 15 assists. On the other hand, Moulson, the Islanders’ leading assist man, has tallied 11 goals and has collected 24 assists. On the defensive side of the ice, the Islanders are led by Swiss native Mark Streit. Streit has scored five goals on the season and has been credited with 12 assists for a total of 17 points. Finally, in goal the Isles are led by Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov is 16-11-3 this season with a 2.78 goals against average.
New Jersey Devils
Ahead of both the Islanders and Rangers in the Eastern Conference playoff race are the Devils, and not by much. Currently the Devils are seventh in the conference with 39 points, 4 points ahead of both the Isles and the Blue-Shirts. They would love to get up to the sixth spot, and face-off in the playoffs against the Southeast Division winner, who will have a substantial amount of points less than the Atlantic and Northeast Division winners. But first they need to get into the playoffs and before that, they need to worry about tonight’s game against the Islanders. So who needs to step up tonight and down the stretch for the Devils?
I continue to say David Clarkson and I’ll change it up by saying Alexei Ponikarovsky. Clarkson has been terrible as of late. Since scoring 10 goals in the first 14 games of the season, David has only scored two goals in the last 21 games. Come on MAN! You were up in the league leaders in scoring for the first few weeks of the season. Get back to that! Or at least add some helpers! You only have two assists in your last 25 games too.
Ponikarovsky hasn’t been much better and only registered one point in all of March. Yes, he was injured and didn’t play in three games in March, but still. You were a huge asset to the team last year, especially down the stretch. We need you to get back to that level of play. So Clarky and Poni, get back to that tonight!
The Devils need a two point game tonight and look to improve to 16-11-9, while the Islanders look to get to 17-16-3.
Tonight’s match-up is the fifth and final meeting between the teams this season. The Isles and Devils have split the first four games, and the winner of tonight’s contest will take the season series. Tune in to the MSG Networks at 7:00 for tonight’s action that will have a big affect on the Eastern Conference playoff race.