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Game 28: Devils at Toronto

The Devils will look to get a winning streak going again with a trip up to Canada's capital of hockey, Toronto. From Gulitti's report from practice on Monday, we learn of two important changes to the team:

1. It seems that Scott Clemmensen will return to the Air Canada Center to start against the Maple Leafs.

2. Brian Rolston will play at left wing with Bobby Holik and David Clarkson, whereas Mike Rupp moves up to the third line.

Well, that's a nice upgrade for Rupp, who found himself scratched last week. But Rolston is aware he isn't playing as well as he needs to be, as he admitted to Gulitti. It could provide a nice mix-up, as Clarkson has been all right and Holik has came back pretty well from his injury. Granted, Holik's expectations are lower and he knows well enough to throw some hits, make some energy, and win some faceoffs in his 8 minutes or so and that would be enough. Anyway, back to Rolston, he isn't losing his place on the point on the power play, so I expect about 12 minutes from him. And if things go awry or if Sutter notices a match-up, the lineup is always ready to be changed.

I asked PPP of Pension Plan Puppets (who should be your stop for Leafs coverage) for a quick overview of the Maple Leafs and what the Devils should expect, as the Leafs could make it a 3 game winning streak should they be victorious over New Jersey.

The Devils can expect a high tempo aggressive forecheck from the Leafs. The Leafs have added a lot of speed to their forward ranks and Coach Ron likes to exploit it. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense to handle the puck and move it quickly. If they aren't ready it tends to create a lot of shots (the Leafs fire the fourth most shots on goal per game) so Clemmensen better be ready.

As for Vesa, your guess is as good as mine. The Leafs are 10-1-3 when his save percentage is over .900 making them 1-11-3 when he decides that he can't be bothered to stop the puck. A good recent indicator is the first shot. If Vesa stops it (like he has in only 2 of the last 6 games) then it should be a good night.

The other thing that you can expect is a team that won't give up. The last meeting between the two highlighted that fact so unless the Leafs have an off night the Devils better be ready to play at least 60 minutes.

Well, there we are. The first shot needs to be lethal (calling Elias or Parise to the slot!), the Devils need to guard against fiesty forecheckers, and they can't relent because the Leafs won't. The good news for New Jersey is that they have recent experience with a high tempo aggressive hockey. They had to endure it on the road in Philadelphia and in Montreal, and the Devils came out winners in overtime. They had to face it (to a point) against Pittsburgh, and won decisively. Teams that won't give up? In addition to the aforementioned Philly and Montreal games, the Devils didn't panic after the Rangers torched a 4 goal lead the Devils built up. They just responded with 3 more goals.

My point is that the Leafs, who are 2-3-0 in their last 5 games, aren't going to throw anything out that the Devils haven't seen recently. Yes, they've done well in their last two games. But the Devils should be ready for the Leafs. The emotional high from the Rangers win led to the letdown against Buffalo and that should be over and done with after a little rest. So I'm looking for the Devils to get a result, like any fan would hope of their favorite team. As always, leave comments and thoughts before, during, and after the game. Just keep it clean, keep it relevant, and keep it Jersey.