The Devils got the job done tonight with a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers at the Rock. But they can't rest on their laurels as the second of back-to-back crucial home games will take place less than 24 hours from now. The New York Islanders will come to New Jersey, and they will be looking for revenge for their 2-1 loss back in October.
The Islanders are hot as, well, as they have been all season. They won three straight games and they want to make it four after having a few days off. We're likely going to see some Overspeed from the Islanders, should Dominik's assessment hold up (and why shouldn't it?). The Devils defenders will have to be especially careful in their own zone and be quick about finding holes in their forecheck.
That said, Dom shouldn't be so concerned with the team's goaltending. Scott Clemmensen has shown that he can do well enough against high-powered offenses (Washington) and in grind-em-out games like with Florida on Thursday, where he made some crucial, if not outright fortunate, saves. Kevin Weekes is also talented and I'm sure when he gets a start - which could be against the Islanders, Tom Gulitti is reporting that Sutter hasn't decided yet - he'll raise his game to show the team that he can be the guy as well.
What the Devils also have going for them is some strong momentum. Even in a game where they had numerous opportunities to put one on net (or in net) and missed, the Devils put together three very nice goals. Two of the goals came right from the line of Patrik Elias-Dainius Zubrus-Brian Gionta. Elias now officially has a goal scoring streak and he's definitely feeling it. Gionta is getting points for his recent hustle on the ice, which is always a good sign for the offense. Zubrus looked very good in distributing the puck, a good turnaround from a poor performance against Washington on Sunday. Not bad for three guys who didn't play anywhere close to 16 minutes. And even if the Islanders can contain them, they'll still have to contend with Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Jamie Langenbrunner who are still an offensive threat. OK, they didn't do a whole lot but put some shots up; but letting Zach Parise do what he wants never ends well for the opposition.
It's a crucial game and a win here would be excellent going into a road trip, not to mention getting one over a division rival. I'll be at the game, so keep it clean, keep it respectful, and keep it New Jersey.