The New Jersey Devils begin the second round of the playoffs by hosting the Ottawa Senators tonight.
GAMETIME: 7:00 PM, EST
Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFANNHL.com Game Preview
An excellent hockey series will begin tonight and bad luck has hit the the Devils hard for Game 1. TSN.ca (among others) are reporting that captain Patrik Elias will not play tonight, he is out with a bad cold.
Elias did not practice yesterday because of this cold. Given that it's the playoffs, public reporting of injuries gets murky at best. Understandably so, the team does not want to reveal any possible weaknesses to their opposition. Is it a cold? Maybe, it is spring, after all. But it may not be. All the same, I hope he recovers as soon as possible.
The TSN article notes that Colin White says he's ready to come back from a back injury; but Devils head coach/GM/President/CEO Lou Lamoriello has stated that he is a game-time decision. I don't expect the Devils to go with seven defensemen and eleven forwards tonight; Elias is an important part of the team on offense not to mention the team's leadership. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see who will replace Elias' spot on the EGG line. In my opinion, it'll probably be Zach Parise. He plays left wing, he's a scorer, and he's been playing well. I know he plays real well with Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner, but the first line could really benefit from his scoring ability. As far as to who to replace Parise's spot on the first line; there are third options - both involving David Clarkson. The first is to slot utility forward Sergei Brylin up to the second line at left wing, and David Clarkson can play his natural position on the right wing on the third line. The second option is to move Brylin up to the second line, move Langenbrunner to the third line and move Clarkson up into a scoring position on the second line at right wing. The third option is to have Clarkson play on the off-wing on the left wing in Parise's spot.
In any case, the Devils have every reason to do their best tonight. The first game in a series is important in establishing momentum, establishing an early lead, and establishing the tone for the rest of the series. The Devils are at home and they know what they need to do to get this one (namely, what they did in Games 5 and 6 against Tampa Bay would suffice in my view). Without Elias, it will be tougher but not impossible. All the same, shoot hard at Ray Emery's glove side and GO DEVILS!
Labels: 2007 Playoffs, Devils Game