Saturday, February 17, 2007


Game: Devils @ Islanders, 6 of 8

The New Jersey Devils get to visit the Nassau Coliseum to take on another team who has been doing well recently, the New York Islanders.

Local TV: MSG (Fox Sports NY if you want the Islander feed for some reason)
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils Record Vs. Islanders: 4-1-0 Preview

The New Jersey Devils had a rough time last night but came alive in the third period to make it only a one-goal loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-4. My comments for the game are in the prior post. Rich Chere has his recap of the game in today's Star Ledger with this telling comment that explains it all (but not why I didn't use it in my own recap, really it's that telling):

"We came back strong and put pressure on them," said goalie Martin Brodeur, who was pulled for an extra skater with 1:05 left. "But anytime you spot a team three goals, it's tough. It's not a position we've been in a lot this season. It happened so quick. It's not easy for anybody to be positive after that."

"We did a good job against their top line," Brodeur said. "It wasn't (Crosby and Evgeni Malkin) that beat us. They're a more complete team."

Yep. Says it all, really. In any case, the Devils get to take on a team that has been 6-1-4 since the All Star Game. The Islanders won their two most recent games (4-1 against Boston, 3-2 against Toronto) and are sitting in ninth place with 64 points with the exact same record as Toronto (who is in eighth place by virtue of the season series favoring Toronto). They are getting hot at the right time, as the playoff race is heating up and the Islanders obviously don't want to be on the outside looking in. The loss to Pittsburgh means that the Devils only have a five point lead in the Atlantic Division, so a win here would make things less "exciting" in the future. A win would also be a good way to bounce back from the 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh, obviously enough.

Anyway, back to the Islanders. Incidentally, their one regulation loss since the All Star Game was against the New Jersey Devils, a 2-0 win back on February 8, 2007. As evidenced by the Devils' record against the Islanders this season, New Jersey knows what to do to beat the Islanders. It requires a strong defensive effort to repel their top forwards: Jason Blake (27 G, 23 A), Mike Sillinger (19 G, 26 A), Miroslav Satan (20 G, 23 A), and (sigh) Viktor Kozlov (20 G, 18 A). The Islanders skate hard and tough, so the Devils will really need to be up for this game from the first shift on. We saw what happened when they weren't last night (for a period, if you want to expand things a bit) and I don't think the Devils can make up a 3 goal deficit. Not many teams can nor should they be put in a position to do such a task.

In the past, I've said that I think Brodeur should play as long as he feels he's not tired. After last night, I'd like to reconsider. I think Brodeur needs a game off here and there because he hasn't been sharp in the last few games. Scott Clemmensen may have more rust than the proverbial metal shack in a rain storm, but he's the guy when Marty needs a rest. Whoever in net tonight will need to play well as the Islanders are a threat up front. I can't say who I prefer in net. Brodeur usually comes back from a bad game with a really good one; but I also think he could use a night off. Hence, my vagueness on the goaltending.

In any case, the defense both on the ice and in net needs to be strong tonight for the Devils to win. The offense, I don't have much to say, other than that they did well last night - power plays excluded. I don't think Brian Gionta is coming back tonight, but he's questionable. All the same, Rick DiPietro (24-17-5, 2.61 GAA, 91.7% Sv., 5 SO) is a good goalie, but if the Devils can rattle him early with shots, it'll definitely improve the Devils chances of getting two points out of this one. They could help at this juncture.



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