Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Game: Pittsburgh @ Devils, 4 of 8

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. But for the Devils, the season is still going on, as the Pittsburgh Penguins come to the Continental Airlines Arena tonight.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY 2
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils' Record Vs. Penguins: 2-1-0
NHL.com Preview

Before delving into this preview, I'd like to highlight that I was mistaken in my analysis of the Atlanta game. Aaron left a comment that lot of those third period shots were from quite a distance away; something I didn't fully realize in my assessments. Aaron's right, the Devils did have trouble penetrating Atlanta's zone - proving that their breakout plays (and most everything other offensive plays in the third period) were ineffective.

Such play will be vital. The Penguins are not known for their defense. The blueline is questionable at best. I have it on good authority that any night Rob Scuderi (or Josef Melichar) is not made to look like a pylon is a good night for him. The Penguins let up an average of 31.3 shots per game and give up an average of 3.29 goals per game. The Devils need to re-establish their possessive play in the offensive zone and make their breakout plays effective to have any success tonight. The Devils should be able to both of these tasks against a team of Pittsburgh's defensive caliber.

Expanding on that point, one could say that now is the perfect time to hammer on the Penguins. The Penguins in general are not doing so well. They lost last their last 3 games to Montreal, St. Louis (!!), and Atlanta. The entire team may not be in Pittsburgh next season, as Mario Lemieux took the team off the market and are considering relocation options, as stated in the NHL preview. Spirits may not be high in the Pittsburgh camp. On the other hand, one could say that this could be a dangerous game for the Devils' tonight. The team needs a win not only to break their losing streak but to lift their team after the terrible news about relocation. It's not as if Pittsburgh is short on offensive talent. They have the NHL leading scorer, Sidney Crosby with his 17 goals and 38 assists; and the NHL's leading scorer among rookies, Evgeni Malkin, with his 17 goals and 16 assists. The Devils defense will need to keep tabs on those two in particular. They and the rest of the Penguins may be very hungry for a win tonight.

What of the Devils? Will Patrik Elias and Colin White be ready to play tonight? Well, the notes section of Rich Chere's column in today's Star Ledger has something on Elias. He's questionable. Personally, I think he'll play. I remember hearing from the TV telecast that he did practice prior to the Atlanta game and was an extremely late scratch for that game. He's had 2 more days of rest, so as long as it isn't killing him, Elias could play. If not, I certainly understand as he would get an extended rest prior to the Capitals on Friday. No word on Colin White and that worries me. I didn't see anyone called up from Lowell, so maybe he'll play? Maybe he will/can not? Who knows? Who will be on the ice for NJ tonight? Good question, here's my guess, assuming Elias does play:


Hale-???? (seriously, if White isn't playing, I have no idea who's here)


If Elias isn't playing, I think Julien may use the same lines he put out for Atlanta last Saturday. In any case, GO DEVILS!


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