Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Game: Montreal @ Devils, 4 of 4

The New Jersey Devils have an opportunity to sweep the season series tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils Record Vs. Canadiens: 3-0-0 Preview

The Devils may have played poorly against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, but I expect things to turn around tonight. The Devils have been strong against Montreal all season long, especially Martin Brodeur. He's 32-12-5, with a 1.77 GAA, a save percentage of 93.3%, and 7 shutouts in his career against Montreal. What's more is that usually Martin Brodeur bounces back from a bad loss with a big game, and the 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday was pretty bad as losses go. At the very least, it's likely that Martin Brodeur will have a big game tonight.

The Montreal Canaidens are not doing so well. They are 1-5-1 in their last 7, including a 1-0 loss at home to the Florida Panthers last night. The Canadiens have been playing poor so far in 2007, with only 7 wins by my count this year (and only 1 this month). They aren't scoring goals, they're letting too many in, and the team (as you can guess) is losing games. This article from Canada's The Sports Network (yes, that's what TSN stands for) states it clearly: Montreal is desperate for a win. The fact that New Jersey is at home where the Devils are 20-5-4 and they do well after bad losses does not bode well for Montreal. Injuries will affect the Canadiens tonight as well: Alexei Kovalev (13 G, 25 A) is questionable for tonight with an upper body injury and defenseman Craig Rivet is still battling pnuemonia.

The New Jersey Devils are going to be playing without John Madden, however. Rich Chere's article in today's Star Ledger notes that Jim Dowd will take John Madden's spot on the checking line. Please wear a visor good, Madden; facial injuries are terrible as you probably are aware of right now. Sergei Brylin's got a sore back but he'll still play. With Dowd moving up a line, expect a fourth line of Cam Janssen, Erik Rasmussen, and Mike Rupp.

In any case, I believe the key for tonight's game is for the Devils to come out "guns a-blazing." In this, I will assume the Devils' defending will improve to where it should be in comparison to what we saw on Sunday. I think the Canadiens are going to be aggressive due to their frustrations in scoring goals and winning games this month. They need to be: they really desperate for a win as their playoff hopes are falling if this keeps up. It is imperative that the Devils forwards make sure Saku Koivu, Sheldon Souray, Michael Ryder, and Co. do not get points early. The EGG and PZL lines need to pound expected starting goaltender David Aebischer with shots and get him moving. The faster the Devils put up 2 goals or so, the easier the game will become as being down a couple goals early will surely demoralize the Canadiens. Holding a one goal lead for 60 minutes is not wide, however. While they didn't equalize last night, they put 16 shots up on Florida in the third period; they do not necessarily give up if the game is still within their reach. A larger lead will make it easier for New Jersey to hold on for the win, if necessary.

Recent history has shown that the Devils know what to do to defeat the Montreal Canadiens. Hopefully, history will repeat itself. GO DEVILS!


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