Thursday, November 09, 2006
Game: Chicago @ Devils
GAMETIME: 7:30 PM EST
Local TV: MSG
Local RADIO: 660 AM WFAN
I'm not going to lie to you, I'm going to be at the Rutgers-Louisville game tonight, which takes place at 7 PM on ESPN. Two undefeated teams, one of which had it's best record in a long while just last season at 7-5. A full preview can be found at the Rutgers' main website right here. If you're looking for an opinion with a fan with a heart that bleeds Scarlet, check out Raritan Sam at Knights of Scarlet. Me, I really only paid deep attention to the RU football team starting last season because the team was generally awful in my other years at Rutgers. I don't care if it makes me a bandwagon fan, RUTGERS IS 8-0 AND HAS A LEGITIMITE SHOT TO BEAT THE #3 TEAM IN THE NATION. With respect to the Devils, I agree with Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record that the Devils are not going to be playing in front of a large audience tonight.
But back to hockey, the point of this blog. The Devils take on the Blackhawks. The Devils are rolling. Even Mark Everson of the New York Post recognizes the Devils' recent success on the power play; with Julien switching to an umbrella formation. It certainly has worked, with the Devils having 2 power play goals in their last 2 games. Just as important as the Devils' power play, Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger reports that David Hale is cleared to play and may be ready to return as soon as this weekend. This is a big development, I can forsee the defensive pairings when Hale returns as such:
Scott Gomez admitted that coming back too soon from a groin injury to play against the Islanders last week will probably cost him a week or two.
"It looks that way right now," said the center, who still is not practicing. "There are always going to be what-ifs. It was a freak thing. I took a shot and felt it. That was just a setback. The machoism comes in. Being hurt in front of your teammates, you wonder: Do they even believe me?
"I've got to be patient. It's not torn. If it's torn, you can't even walk. I'm day-to-day. You almost wish you had a broken bone instead of this so you know. It's just frustrating."
All the same, Gomez should take all the time necessary so this groin injury does not become an issue in the future. In any case, expect to see those same forward lines for Montreal and Carolina tonight. As always, expect to see Martin Brodeur in net. Expect to see the snake-bit Patrik Elias, almost-as-snake-bit Brian Gionta, and the North Dakota Two (Zach Parise & Travis Zajac) explode against the injury-depleted Blackhawks. According to NHL.com' preview of the game, Chicago comes into this game without their top goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, their top scorer Martin Havlat (7 G, 6 A), and Michel Handzus. Ex-Flyers goalie Brian Boucher is expected to get the start against NJ. The Devils will need to be wary of Radim Vrbata (3 G, 9 A), Brian Smolinski (3 G, 6 A), and-as is my understanding-a generally young team still coming together that will punish teams who don't give an effort.
In short, the Devils need to take the Blackhawks seriously and take it to them early. I'm just a fan, I can write off Chicago without any cost to me; but the Devils will likely lose if they do. If they do as well as they did against Montreal and Carolina, I think NJ gets a third straight win. The Chicago Sun-Times has a fun fact: The last time the Blackhawks beat the Devils it was way back in 1998 at the United Center; and the Blackhawks have not won in NJ since 1997. Hopefully, the Devils continue Chicago's little Jersey losing streak.
For something a little different, the NHL has acquired famed hockey photographer's Denis Brodeur's photography collection.
Go Devils. And, of course, Go Knights.
Labels: Devils Game
Yet, as a New Yorker and a fan of college football, I don't believe I have ever been happier to watch a team win that wasn't one of "my teams" than I was tonight.
I can only imagine what it was like in Piscataway.