Sunday, February 25, 2007


Game: Devils @ Washington, 4 of 4

The New Jersey Devils will take on the Washington Capitals for the last time this season this afternoon, the second half of a home-and-home with the Capitals.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils Record VS. Capitals: 2-1-0 Preview

The New Jersey Devils played very poorly yesterday afternoon, in a 4-2 loss to the Capitals. The prior post in this blog has all the details from that one. Needless to say, first and foremost, the Devils cannot come out flat a second straight time should they want to win today. They need to establish that they are the team that is going to the playoffs, that they are the leaders of their own division, and that they are a strong team in all three positional areas.

Second, the Devils need to do something with the power play for a change. Put defensemen on the point who can put it on net; as opposed to Jamie Langenbrunner and his "interesting" idea of shot accuracy. Get Mike Rupp off the top power play unit, the havoc he's creating in the slot is not clearing space and he isn't putting home loose pucks. Have the wingers move in and out of the slot to get the opposing defense moving. Insult the opposition by stating that their mother was a newt and their father smells of elderberries. Something different. Anything different. Right now, it is horrible in that the Devils are wasting man advantages - times when you're supposed to at least really put the pressure on the offense, if not putting the puck in the net. The Devils aren't even threatening on the power play, as of late.

Third, give Scott Clemmensen some goal support. I'm confident he'll start today, it's probably the most obvious game right now where he should get a start, and so I'm going to assume Martin Brodeur will get a well-deserved rest. He hasn't had a start in the NHL for months. It would not be wise for the Devils to rely on Clemmensen to come up with the big save every time for 60 minutes. Therefore, it would not be wise for the Devils to focus on counter-attacking for much of the game. If anything, his start should encourage the Devils to take the initiative and attack the Capitals defense and their goaltender (likely Brent Johnson again) as much as possible. That means pounding the puck into the corners, it means maintaining possession around their zone, and it means putting a lot of rubber on net. Let me emphasize that I mean on net - not wide, not into four players where the shot is likely to be blocked, not over the net - the shots need to be on net, obviously enough.

Of all things, the first is the most important. If they do that, I think the Devils will be fine. At the very least, even if they lose, it would not be so disappointing.


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