Jan 9, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Dallas Stars center Shawn Horcoff (10) checks New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac (19) off the puck during the first period at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: New Jersey Devils vs Florida Panthers

New Jersey Devils vs Florida Panthers – Game 1 of 3 – January 11, 2014

Devils (18-18-9) TV – MSG+
Panthers (17-21-6) TV – FSFL

The New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers will meet for the first time this season as the Devils conclude their homestand at the Prudential Center.

The Devils kept pace with the rest of the Eastern Conference and more importantly the Metropolitan Division with a satisfying 1-0 win over the Dallas Stars.

Jan 9, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) makes a save during the second period of their game against the Dallas Stars at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Cory Schneider pitched a shutout and looked spectacular against a pretty skilled Dallas top line. The Devils had 30+ shots and still only could get one goal but that was partly because Kari Lehtonen was absolutely fantastic in net.

Schneider has earned another start in net against the Panthers on Saturday night.

The Panthers have a chance to make serious strides in the wild card race. They are currently 5 points behind the Devils and can bring that down to 3 and even potentially jump the Columbus Blue Jackets in the standings (depending on if CLB wins tonight).

The Devils can also make huge strides in their playoff pushes. With a win (and various other losses) they could actually leave tomorrow in a tie for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

While the theme against the Stars was winning “now or never,” tomorrow’s game is pretty much going to come down to capitalizing against the teams that are “worse than them.” While the Panthers are slightly lower than the Devils in the standings, the Devils only have 1 more win this season and the same amount of losses when you combine overtime losses and regulation losses.

The Devils have played 45 games and the Panthers have only played 44. So the real question is:

Are the Devils really better than the Florida Panthers?

Tomorrow night will be the first time of 3 meetings where they will answer that question.

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Tags: Cory Schneider New Jersey Devils

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