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Game 50: Devils vs. Pittsburgh

The Devils don't get to enjoy a hard-fought overtime win over Boston. They have to play tonight. Against Pittsburgh. Who may have figured out how to play winning hockey again.

Penguins Schedule

Last 5 Games

New York Rangers Wed 01/28 W 6 - 2
Carolina Tue 01/20 L 1 - 2
New York Rangers Sun 01/18 W 3 - 0
Anaheim Fri 01/16 W 3 - 1
Washington Wed 01/14 L 3 - 6

OK, they are only 3-2 in their last 5. But two of those three wins came against Them, so that counts for something. Most importantly, they were killing it in the third period against the Rangers and ultimately won 6-2. Pensburgh has the recap and he was definitely feeling good about the win. I'll bet you the Penguins are feeling good about the win too.

Even if the Penguins fell flat on their face recently, I'd still be worried because they still have these two guys. Oh, and in reality, one of them just had a big night against the Rangers - so he's feeling it. And Frank posits the thought of that guy being healthy. Yikes. Good luck to whoever will start the game and the Devils' defense!

2008 - Evgeni Malkin 48 19 51 70 13 50 7 2 1 0 170 11.2

2008 - Sidney Crosby 47 17 43 60 3 61 3 0 1 1 142 12.0

One thing in the Devils' favor, and this was pointed out by Chico in the post-game show on TV tonight, that no one was really given heavy minutes against Boston. Paul Martin, Johnny Oduya, and Colin White have played more than 20 minutes - but that's not new to any of them. And that's it. The minute leader in forwards weren't Zach Parise (he led in even strength with only 16:37), Travis Zajac, or Jamie Langenbrunner - the best line of the night against Boston. It wasn't Patrik Elias or Brian Gionta getting extra shifts. It was John Madden and it was for 18:29 - mostly boosted by penalty kills.

My point is that while the game had quite a bit of hitting (Bruins outhit Devils 28-24), I don't think anyone was run (skated?) right into the ground. I wouldn't expect the Devils to be too tired. So the concern for the Devils will be how to handle a team coming off a big win like Pittsburgh. Like against Boston, the Devils benefited from a strong forecheck in the first 40 minutes and the last 5 minutes. They would be wise to apply it to the Penguins' defense and put the onus on them to make plays. Though I wouldn't want the Devils to be so aggressive such that Crosby, Malkin, or anyone else is able to sneak into the neutral zone, wide open to take passes and put the Devils to the sword on the rush. The Devils defense just has to respect the league's leading scorers and all that.

The Devils will honor "Doc" Emrick tonight and a great way to do that would be to extend the winning streak to eight. Even if it doesn't work out, it's been a wildly successful month. This is the game thread, so please leave comments about the game here before, during, and after the game. Keep it clean, keep it relevant, and go Devils.