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Game 33: Devils vs. Penguins

OK, holiday's over. Back to the hockey! Except for Bryce Salvador. According to Gulitti, Salvador's "upper body injury" is quite possibly a head injury. According to Chere, Salvador insists that it's not a concussion - but it's likely a head injury of some sort. Well, the head is in the upper part of the body; it's not actually untrue. This is a bit confusing but the important thing is that while he's skating, he's definitely not playing tonight or tomorrow at The Rink of Our Hated Rivals. Brent Sutter's quote is quite to the point:

"I think maybe tomorrow he'll be able to get out (on the ice) with the coaches," Sutter said. "He won't play tomorrow night. I'm hoping, but you never know, unless there's a setback, I'm expecting him perhaps to go to St. Louis and Dallas. We'll see how it goes. But these next three or four days will be good for him conditioning-wise."

There we are. So the line-up should look like it did against Boston. Gulitti has those lines in case you forgot right here. Andy Greene will continues to get chances to show Sutter that he belongs in New Jersey and not in the press box or Lowell. In any case, the Devils played fairly well in the 2-0 loss to Boston all things considered, except they were too toothless on the attacking side of the game. If the Devils can ramp that up, and they did that in the last Devils-Penguins game, then they should be good to go.

Of course, with a division rival, it won't be that easy with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

An excellent overview of what's going with this team can be had at Pensburgh. Frank has this to say about the Devils tonight's game. He's not expecting a cakewalk and the Devils shouldn't either. Namely because who knows what's going on with the Penguins. The team just got back Ryan Whitney on defense, their last game was at home to the hapless Tampa Bay Lightning, and the result was...15 shots on Mike Smith in a 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay? Seriously. That's what happened. Frank was upset by this, Penguin fans had to have been upset by this, and I imagine the team was upset about it.

Adding further to the confusion is that there is some drama within the Penguins organization (also at Pensburgh). It's not good when the coach has to stand up, say this is Sid's team, and then later have that same coach make veiled remarks about some whiny players. I'm not sure how much it'll will effect tonight's game. Perhaps after the Christmas break, things may have cooled off a bit. Maybe they'll flare up. Who knows! Other than that the fans want Sidney Crosby scoring goals. Frank notes that has scored only one since a hat trick on November 29 against, hey here's a coincidence, the Devils.

2008 - Sidney Crosby 34 14 33 47 10 30 2 0 1 1 109 12.8

Not that the Crosby is in some massive slump. He had 12 assists since then, and the one goal he did score was the game winner over Buffalo on December 22. So he's not finishing the play, just mainly setting up others who do finish them. Great. And one of those others just happens to be the league's leading scorer:

2008 - Evgeni Malkin 34 15 43 58 22 34 4 2 1 0 117 12.8

Malkin is definitely not in a slump. The man has had 5 goals and 7 assists in only his last 5 games. And he was held pointless in the last game, so it was all done in only 4. Forget what Pierre McGuire thinks, Malkin is truly a monster.

Basically, if the Devils think that the Penguins, who are 2-3-0 in their last 5 and coming off a bad loss to the Lightning amid controversy in the locker room, will be an easy win, then you can forget about a good result for the Devils tonight. I don't anticipate the Devils to do that (and they better not!), but it bears mentioning for over-confident fans.

It should be an exciting game tonight, and with the recent holiday, the Rock should be plenty filled with plenty of Devils fans. Scott Clemmensen will be in net and the Devils will fight for a win. As always, feel free to comment about the game (before, during, and after) in this post. Just keep it clean, keep it relevant, and keep it Jersey.