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Game 43: Devils @ Vancouver

The New Jersey Devils are looking to get their road trip back into the winning form they visit Vancouver tomorrow. They're called the Canucks but these days you might as well call them the Sundins. The big story is that Mats Sundin is wearing the Orca C and has done so since January 7th: the team is 1-2 since his return with Sundin putting up one goal and sitting for 6 minutes in the box. So he's a little rusty.

And the team's struggling more than a little at home. The Canucks have not won in their last four games at home and they are coming off back to back home losses: to St. Louis and to San Jose. Sundin was not enough to give the team a boost throughout those games. In fact, he took the penalty that led to the eventual game winning power play goal for the other team! So sad! The other lionized Canuck has finally taken to the ice, but Roberto Luongo will not play tonight according to Chere. I'm not sure who will start tonight for Vancouver - it could be Jason LaBarbera. It could be Curtis Sanford. It could be a shooter tutor. I just don't know. But it won't be the talented Luongo.

For the Devils, it will be Scott Clemmensen getting the start which is quite interesting. It's not like he blew the game against Anaheim, so I suppose Sutter wants to show a little confidence in him after the 4-3 loss. The real storyline within the game will be to see who's looking to make a statement. Brendan Shanahan suiting up in Devils red is imminent and according to Chere's article (it was in the Star-Ledger this morning), someone will have to sit. Given Shanahan's skill on special teams and that he mainly got fourth line duty in even strength situations, I'd take a close look at Jay Pandolfo and Mike Rupp. If you were to ask me who sits for Shanahan, I think it's got to be one of them. And given that the key word is special teams for Shanahan, not just the power play, it could be Pandolfo before Rupp. Keep an eye on both of them and the special teams units when they're out on the ice - they're not just competing for a job, but perhaps their spot on the team.

Keep an eye out, also, for two Canucks in particular. The preview at Vancouver's official website highlights puck possession as being quite important. This is true for New Jersey. In their recent losses, I've noticed that they have a tendency to concede possession too easily, especially with errant and/or ill-advised passes. And if the Devils can't hold onto the puck well tonight, then expect the Canucks to get it to the Sedin twins. They've been excellent for the team on offense and the Devils' defense would do well to keep them from creating and finshing plays regardless of whether it's Henrik or Daniel.

2008 - Henrik Sedin 44 7 34 41 8 30 1 0 2 0 74 9.5

2008 - Daniel Sedin 44 21 24 45 11 16 4 0 5 1 155 13.5

For the Devils tonight, in addition to the fourth line and the special teams unit, I would also keep an eye out on Zach Parise. He didn't have a very good game against Anaheim. It took him a majority of the game to get a shot on net and the goal he scored looked to me more as an own goal by Travis Moen. For the Devils to really have a good chance to win this one, he'll have to rebound. Knowing Parise, it's a good bet he'll do just that.

2008 - Zach Parise 42 24 25 49 14 18 6 0 4 2 176 13.6

And speaking of eyes, I have to be honest, mine aren't going to be open this late. Even if I manage to stay up late enough to watch the whole game; I'm not going to be able to put out anywhere-close-to-decent thought about the game. It's more likely I'll watch one period, go to bed, watch the rest of the game tomorrow afternoon, and then give my thoughts. For those of you not on the east coast, you'll probably see all of this and enjoy/despise/be indifferent for the game. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments: just keep it clean, keep it relevant, and keep it Jersey.
UPDATE: Chere got words on what Sutter said to the team this morning. It's relevant to tonight's game and I hope this time, the Devils will respond and come out with a better game. At worst, it's something interesting to read as we in the east wait 3 hours for this one to start.