The New Jersey Devils will host the Tampa Bay Lightning today and will be shown on a much larger than local scale.
GAMETIME: 3:30 PM, EST
Local/National TV: NBC (HD available)
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils Record vs. Lightning: 1-0-1NHL.com Preview
The Lightning have played mostly well as of late. They won 4 of their last 5 games. Unfortunately, they lost to the Rangers on Friday by a score of 5-0. Johan Holmqvist looked good in both games against the Devils; so the Devils offense will need to solve him - again. The Lightning's biggest threat remains up front. Vincent Lecavalier (34 G, 36 A) and Martin St. Louis (32 G, 40 A) are among the top scorers in the league, not just on their own team. The key to the Devils' 2-0 win over Tampa Bay back in January was the fact that the Devils checking unit and the defense shut them down. Seriously, Eric Perrin (8 G, 13 A) was their most threatening forward considering how much talent they have on offense. The Devils will also have to quell those two forwards in particular to have any chance of winning this game.
This is not to say that Brad Richards (19 G, 26 A) and Vaclav Prospal (8 G, 27 A) should be left alone or the Devils should collapse in their own zone for 60 minutes giving point shots to defensemen Dan Boyle (11 G, 32 A) or Filip Kuba (8 G, 20 A). The defense, I think, will have to have strong shadowing efforts from Jay Pandolfo and John Madden with the defensemen having to pick up the rest. Either that or strong positional play while clearing the front of the net of anybody trying to screen Brodeur and have Brodeur make the saves on any shots he does take with a clear vision.
On offense, there isn't a whole lot of new things to type at this point. They've been successful in recent games at putting a lot of pressure and shots on the opposing goaltender, whereas the finishing could be improved. The power play, unsurprisingly, sucks. If the Devils can continue being aggressive towards the goaltender and even improve the finishing on their scoring chances, they should be fine. As far as the power play goes, I have no idea how to get it productive again. None. I don't know if the Devils can overload in the slot due to their lack of size. I don't know if the umbrella just needs to be re-formatted or involve different players. I don't have any ideas. Sorry.
Regardless, the Devils get to play to a larger audience than usual on TV. A win here really helps New Jersey push for first place in the conference. Tampa Bay is going to come out hard since they are coming off a bad loss and will likely want to re-assert that they are a good team. They are a good team, but I imagine any team after a 5-0 loss would want prove themselves again in the next game. More importantly, Tampa Bay is only one point ahead of Toronto for that eighth place position - the final playoff spot. They want to build a lead, not catch up to other teams to make it into the post season. I imagine head coach John Tortorella has made this possibility clear to his team. The Devils have beaten this team before and knows what they can do, hopefully they will avoid coming out flat - which may be enough of a window of opportunity for the Lightning to take the win.
Labels: Devils Game