New Jersey Devils vs Dallas Stars – Game 1 of 2 – January 9, 2014
Devils (17-18-9) TV – MSG+
Stars (20-15-7) TV – FSSW
The New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars will meet for the first time this season tonight in their only meeting at the Prudential Center in Newark. The Devils and Stars are in similar situations, albeit of different magnitude. Both teams are vying for Wild Card spots and both teams stand 4 points out of the 2nd Wild Card spot.
However, the Western Conference is just nasty at what they do this season. The Stars have 4 more points than the Devils and still sit 4 points out of a Wild Card spot. While the Devils can also hope for a Top-3 spot in the Metropolitan Division, the Stars sit 11 points behind the 3rd-place Colorado Avalanche.
Because that’s just how good the Western Conference is.
In the Devils’ case, they absolutely need this win to keep pace in the Eastern Conference. They sit in 6th-place in the Wild Card race and at best could jump up to a tie with the Carolina Hurricanes in 5th. The same scenario also plays out in the division with the Devils in 6th and Carolina in 5th. Carolina also plays tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a traditional “pick-your-poison” type game.
Cory Schneider will be in net tonight to try and “redeem” himself from a 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres last Saturday. He had 20 saves but gave up two goals in a game that saw his save percentage at .909 for the game.
Kari Lehtonen will presumably get the start tonight with the Stars having a few days off between their last game on Monday night. Lehtonen has been very bad in 2014 thusfar. On January 2nd against the Montreal Canadiens, he gave up 5 goals, made 22 saves, and had an .815 save percentage.
On January 4th, he gave up 2 goals but was pulled early after only 12 saves and finished with an .857 save percentage in the 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
On Monday, it all boiled out of control. He made 36 saves but gave up a whopping 7 goals to the New York Islanders in a 7-3 loss. His save percentage still suffered at .837.
If there was a night for the Devils’ offense to redeem themselves to Schneider, tonight would be a great night to do it against a struggling Lehtonen if he indeed starts.
Other important games:
- Florida Panthers @ Buffalo Sabres – Why are we talking about this game? If the Panthers win and the Devils lose, they will be only 3 points behind New Jersey in the standings. Yeah, those Panthers.
- Toronto Maple Leafs @ Carolina Hurricanes – As previously mentioned, this is a “pick-your-poison” Eastern Conference matchup. The Maple Leafs sit in the second Wild Card spot with 47 points (4 ahead of NJ) while the Hurricanes are ahead of the Devils in both the Metropolitan and Wild Card race by 2 points. In case you were wondering, the New York Rangers sit in the third Divisional Playoff Spot with 47 points.
- Washington Capitals @ Tampa Bay Lightning – The Capitals have taken somewhat of a fall from grace lately. They now sit in a tie for third in the Wild Card Race (46 points) and have fallen to 4th in the Metropolitan Division and could even drop to 5th depending on how the Carolina game unfolds tonight. The Capitals can also take back third place in the Division with a win tonight.
- Detroit Red Wings @ San Jose Sharks – The Red Wings have the top Wild Card spot but only by a point. Depending on the Toronto game tonight, they could fall down a spot in the Wild Card race tonight. In relation to the Devils, the Red Wings are 5 points ahead of the Devils with 48.