The New Jersey Devils host the Washington Capitals in the first of a home-and-home matinee weekend today.
GAMETIME: 1:00 PM, EST
Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM WFAN
Devils Record Vs. Capitals: 2-0-0NHL.com Preview
I apologize for the scant preview, the game is early after all. In any case, the Devils are looking good with wins over the New York Rangers on Tuesday and Thursday night. They won four of their last five. Zach Parise continues his emergence as a fantastic hockey player with his 25th goal of the season. Patrik Elias returned from having the flu on Thursday and while he didn't get any points, he looked pretty good on the ice. The big story for the Devils this weekend is Scott Clemmensen. In this article by Rich Chere in the Star Ledger, the back up goaltender has a great chance to get a start this weekend. I hope he starts either today or tomorrow.
The Capitals are pretty much out of the playoff race and the Devils have a good lead in the Atlantic Division, so the points aren't as critical. What's more is that Brodeur could use a break after two tough games against the Rangers. He was messed with, faced a lot of shots (66 total over both games), and did very well. Brodeur is not necessary to beat the Capitals in both games this weekend, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, as evidenced by the end of the Chere article, Brian Gionta is still not ready to return from a groin pull. He's not playing today, expect him sometime next week to return, I guess. Also, the mighty Alexander Korolyuk deal that the Devils have done has been cancelled. Korolyuk isn't coming to the NHL to play for San Jose, so there's no deal and the Devils return that extra third round pick to the Sharks.
Now, not to sell the Capitals short - because when I do, they seem to come out hard against the Devils and/or beat them - but they aren't doing so well. They're pretty much out of the playoff picture and their superstar Alexander Ovechkin (34 G, 38 A) is pointless in his last four games. The Devils have even defeated the Capitals in the last two games they played each other. Most significant is that the team has lost their last five games.
The key for the Devils is not who is and is not in the lineup nor it is not who is and is not starting in net. No, the key is effort. The Devils can not play down to the Capitals at all. Far too many times have I've been watching the Devils (since 1993-1994), they have a tendency to sometimes not give an "A" effort against the poorer teams in the league. A loss wouldn't be the end of the world, but the Devils should be able to get a win with the same line up that has gotten two wins over the Rangers in two very close and intense games. The Devils may have their energy sapped a bit as a result of the loss of emotion; but coming out flat is a great way to give the Capitals some sorely-needed momentum in their favor. Once they have that going for them, a team desperate for a win could create some major havoc regardless of whether Brodeur or Clemmensen starts.
Therefore, I hope the Devils come out strong and give a consistently strong effort - which may be sufficient - if not necessary - to beat the Capitals. GO DEVILS!
Labels: Devils Game