Monday, February 18, 2008
A Preview of Things to Come
It's because of those two games and the recent back-to-back-and-mostly-successful stretch by New Jersey, I'm a bit concerned about today's game. Yes, the Hurricanes are without Rod Brind'Amour, who is out for pretty much the rest of the season with a knee injury (TSN), so the Devils should have an easier time on faceoffs. However, the Canes most definitely remember the last two games against the Devils. They didn't just lose, they lost big. They lost in a bad way. They don't want to happen again a third time, and you can bet on head coach Peter Laviolette will use this as motivation. If only to convince his defenders to actually collapse in their zone. Collapsing was something they didn't do in either game against the Devils, forcing the Devils to go outside with more of their shots. Unfortunately for Carolina, the Devils accepted this challenge and excelled. The Canes won their last three games, so they also have momentum on their side.
The Devils will need to be careful. If I were Brent Sutter, I'd start Kevin Weekes. Yes, Martin Brodeur is the best goaltender and clearly gives the Devils the best chance to win; but he's been worked. He is coming off two straight games, facing a total of 71 shots and playing over 120 minutes against top offenses. Carolina's offense is not as threatening and Weekes should be able to handle the workload. Marty deserves a little rest and now is a good time to give it to him.
Regardless of who starts, I think the Devils need to score the first two goals of this game. They tend to drift in afternoon games and after a tough back-to-back series, the importance of getting the first few goals is key. Unlike the Atlanta and Ottawa games, the Devils scoring 1 or 2 early would really demoralize the Canes - likely forcing them to think back to those two bad losses they had earlier. The momentum would be in New Jersey's favor and that would make the game a bit easier on them. Why two? Because a one goal lead doesn't mean much, especially in today's NHL, and two is lot easier to hold onto and build upon than one.
Your NHL.com preview is here. For non-today's game news and analysis, Jeremy Kenter at Devils Daily has a ton of things to go through. The league's general managers are meeting in Naples (Florida, not Italy) to discuss rules and more trade proposals than a Hockey's Future sub-forum. Speaking of HF, Jared Ramsden has an update on the Devils' NCAA prospects that's worth your time as well. From Ramsden's writeup, I'm really impressed with Tyler Eckford's development. A late pick in 2004, Eckford becoming a top offensive threat on defense in all of college hockey is definitely worth some praise and what the cool kids (or Michael Wilbon) call "dap."
As far as preview goes, let me end with a vague note. I got some things going on in the background I can't reveal yet; but this place may get a little more popular soon. Nevertheless, this blog has just recently passed the 50,000 visitor mark, so some thanks are in order for you. Thank you all for reading In Lou We Trust. The e-mails and comments are always welcomed and I'm looking forward to pleasing even more people with my word-based blog. Give yourself a self-high five and GO DEVILS.