Saturday, October 28, 2006

 

Game: Columbus at NJ

Tonight, the Devils host the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:30 PM, EST.

TV: Fox Sports NY
Radio: 660 AM WFAN

For the New Jersey Devils, according to the Bergen Record, Scott Gomez seems to be day-to-day and he might play tonight. If not, it seems that Sergei Brylin will move up to the first line due to the fact that he played in Gomez' spot for the third period of Thursday's game (with Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta) and did practice there on Friday. I completely forgot that he was there in the third period yesterday. According to the NY Daily News, Travis Zajac was rested in practice so he is likely to play tonight (EDIT: I misread the article, sorry); but with Brylin up on the first line, we'll probably see Erik Rasmussen on the second line. Both articles have updates on defenseman David Hale. Hale practiced for the first time yesterday, so he is considered day-to-day. He was (and in my opinion should be) wearing a visor at practice. All the same, Alex Brooks has been recalled to NJ and Barry Tallackson was sent down to Lowell, who play the Springfield Falcons this afternoon.

For no reason at all, here's a fun quote by Brylin: (source: NJ.com)

Brylin was asked if Gomez's injury highlights his own importance to the team.

"What am I going to say? Yeah, I'm the greatest thing that ever happened to this team?" he answered. "No, I'm not going to say that. I can play center; I can play wing. Is it a plus? Maybe it is. I don't know. Ask the coach."
Great line, in my opinion.

Now, the Columbus Blue Jackets (3-4-1) are coming off a 2-0 victory against the Los Angeles Kings. However, it seems that the Blue Jackets were very fortunate to win the game. The Blue Jackets took 8 trips to the penalty box, and LA heavily outshot Columbus all game by a margin 38-14. Impressively, LA did not convert on any of their 8 power plays, which should make Columbus fans feel good. The Blue Jackets are 22nd in the league on the penalty kill (80.4). The Blue Jackets are also having trouble taking a lot of shots, they are 30th in the NHL in shots per game - averaging 24.8 shots per game (nearly 2 shots behind 29th Edmonton). The Blue Jackets feature some very good young talent (Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Fritsche, Gilbert Brule), Pascal Leclaire - who is getting his first season as a starter, and mix of veterans (Sergei Federov, Adam Foote, David Vyborny, Frederik Modin).

Basically, Columbus may be tired from the previous night's game and NJ needs to take full advantage of that. NJ has had a day rest, so fatigue should not be an issue for them - with or without Scott Gomez. Just as importantly, the Devils need to take advantage of any power plays they will get. They beat Florida on 2 power play goals and a cause of their prior 3 game losing streak was the simple fact that the Devils had a lot of trouble getting a shot on goal with a man advantage, much less scoring a goal. The only other key to the game is to make sure NJ dictates the pace of the game. They lost 3 of their last 4 because Nashville, Ottawa, and Pittsburgh defined how they wanted the game to flow. They beat Florida partially by NJ giving a good effort all game and controlling the pace.

Player To Watch: Patrik Elias. The captain of the New Jersey Devils is having a somewhat quiet start to the season. Yes, he has 2 goals and 7 assists in his first 10 games. That's very good. But he's also a -5 and has 16 penalty minutes. Elias is due for a breakout game, wherein he is simply all over the ice, either hitting someone, making plays, or finishing them. Lifetime, he has 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 games against Columbus; maybe tonight will be that night.

Go Devils.

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