Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Game: Carolina @ Devils
Gametime: 7:00 PM EST
National TV: Versus
Local Radio: 660 AM WFAN
The New Jersey Devils are coming off a big and exciting 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. However, tonight will be a challenge. The Hurricanes are coming off a close 3-2 win against the Senators in Ottawa, a rousing rebound from their being dominated by the Canadiens 4-0 last Thursday. The Devils are the only other team to have shutout out the Hurricanes, the Devils doing it with 4 deflected goals for a 4-0 win on Banner night #2 in the RBC Center.
Just as importantly, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record identifies two big problems for NJ in his article today: injuries in the short term and offense in the long term. The Devils have not scored more than 10 goals in their last 6 games and are 26th in the league in goals scored (ahead of those offensive dynamos in Boston, Philadelphia, and Columbus). Devils hockey was never about scoring a lot of goals, but it helps - especially in the New NHL(tm). While the production has been short of what's expected of Patrik Elias (2G, 7A in 13 games) and Brian Gionta (7G, 6A in 13 games); Elias is confident the goals will come:
It's true that Zajac has been an good surprise for the Devils this season. On the Devils' website there is an article focusing on the rookie center. In all honesty, Elias, the Devils will have a maximum of two offensive lines at best - the Madden or Dowd lines are not going to make any goalies quiver in their pads. One of the scoring lines will remain depleted as Gulitti reports in the above article that #1 center Scott Gomez will sit out tonight's game with a groin injury. Expect Brylin to center Elias and Gionta once again. John Madden did not practice yesterday, but he will play tonight. The defense is also going to be a question mark. Jim Fahey is questionable for tonight with a tricep injury. Fortunately, Brad Lukowich did practice and he might play tonight. Keep your eye out for any call ups from Lowell just in case. The forward lines and defensive pairings should be the same as it was for Montreal (just slot in Lukowich for Fahey, I guess if Fahey can't go tonight), with Martin Brodeur tending the nets as usual.
Elias is confident the goals will come, though. He sees a pretty good second line coming together, with impressive rookie Travis Zajac centering Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner, that can give the Devils their best scoring balance since Elias was teaming with Petr Sykora and Jason Arnott on the "A line" and Gomez was helping Alexander Mogilny score 43 goals in 2000-01.
"It reminds me a little bit of 2000 and those years," Elias said. We know we can score goals. We have the talent. I think Travis has surprised everybody the way he has played. I think he's going to be an unbelievable hockey player and we can have a minimum of two good offensive lines."
The Hurricanes have had an inconsistent start to the season as well, starting 7-6-2. Unlike the Devils, the Canes are having not as many problems putting the puck in the net. Defense and goaltending could be better though; they're giving up far too many goals. Regardless, it's no surprise that Eric Staal (8G, 8A), Justin Williams (5G, 9A), and Erik Cole (3G, 8A) are contributing on the offense. The surprise is that the scoring is led by veterans Ray Whitney (5G, 14A) and Rod Brind'Amour (4G, 15A), with Scott Walker tying Staal for the team lead in goal scoring (8G, 4A). The Canes have balanced scoring and with the Devils' defense hurting a bit, Brodeur may need to play big once again. (Hey, Marty, just pretend those ugly jagged ovals on their jerseys are an abstract, surreal version of the Canadiens' classic C.)
As mentioned in the Montreal game, the Devils are undefeated when leading after one or two periods. The Carolina Hurricanes are also undefeated when carrying a lead over. This makes the first goal just as crucial as ever. NJ really needs to take it to Cam Ward early and continue putting pressure on him for 60 minutes. This isn't the playoffs, so he's human here - this is doable, I think.
On a side note from the game, I just found this article by The Maven, Stan Fischler at MSG's website about the upcoming Devils' arena in Newark. It's a week old, but any good news about the arena is good news.
Labels: Devils Game