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Game 18 Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. Washington Capitals - 11/14/2009

The Time: 7 PM EST

The Broadcasting Info: MSG on the TV; WFAN on the radio

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (13-4-0) vs. Washington Capitals (12-3-4)

If You're Going to the Game: Bring some canned/non-perishable food!  Tonight is Jersey Hockey Fights Hunger night and there will even be a Canstruction on display.  Help out the community by bringing something if you're going to the game.

The Last Devils Game: The New Jersey Devils continue to find ways to win.  After giving up the first goal against Pittsburgh and generally not looking as strong; they put some strong shifts together in the second period, equalized thanks to Nicklas Bergfors, and the Devils went from strength to strength. It's now 7 wins in a row and Steve recapped the game as such.

The Last Capitals Game: The Devils aren't the only one running a winning streak as we speak. The Capitals have not lost since last Wednesday at New Jersey and have now four straight. Yes, the Capitals downed the Minnesota Wild in DC thanks to Brian Pothier's third period goal.  David Getz at Japers' Rink noted that the Caps won with the cycle in his recap.

The Last Devils-Capitals Game:  The Devils went down early, worked hard, and eventually ended up leading 3-1 in the last minute or so of the game. A quick strike with the extra man made it 3-2, but the Devils held on to win. I felt the Capitals were better on the rush, with respect to quick attacks; but the Devils generally dominated in possession and in setting up on offense. Of course, the Caps ate 4 minors in the third period which also helped. Steve recapped the game, which was only the Devils' second home win of the season then.

The Goal:  Puck possession. Even without Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals have some absolutely dangerous players up at forward and from the point.  It isn't just top line players like Nicklas Backstrom or Alexander Semin.  Secondary scoring has helped them tremendously, whether it's Tyler Sloan, Mathieu Perreault, or Tomas Fleischmann - the Caps are getting it done.   The Capitals apparently outworked the Wild last night and pounded them with cycles all game long.  The Devils should not and can not assume the Capitals will take tonight lightly just because of last night or being tired or any other reason.  The Capitals have every reason to feel good about their current hot streak and as such will likely try to do the same thing in the Rock.  

As a result, I feel the Devils need to take some serious initiative and control the puck like they did the last time Washington came up to Newark.  You can't cycle if you're playing defense and per this post by Stephen Pepper at Japers' Rink, the Capitals faithful knows it's a weakpoint.  The Devils can exploit that with dominant puck possession, I would like to see that tonight.

This preview is a bit threadbare; but I will update it this afternoon should there be any relevant news (confirmations of players playing, other moves, etc.)

A Guess at the Lineup:  Not a whole lot of news with respect to New Jersey on Friday.   The players who have been out are still out.  Besides, I'm not sure if I'd want to change up too much to start. The following lineup was looking good by the third period in Pittsburgh, with each line getting shots, solid scoring chances, and even an odd man rush or two.  Even from the fourth line!

Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Nicklas Bergfors
  Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus - Jamie Langenbrunner
  Brian Rolston - Tim Sestito - David Clarkson
  Matt Halischuk - Rod Pelley - Ilkka Pikkarainen

Andy Greene - Bryce Salvador
Colin White - Mike Mottau
  Mark Fraser - Cory Murphy

Martin Brodeur
Yann Danis

I figure with the day in between games, Brodeur will likely start and the same 18 skaters will play the Capitals as they did against the Penguins.  I think Patrik Elias will continue looking better and better; I felt he was real close to scoring twice against Pittsburgh and his passes are improving.  In due time, he'll be   I also think Mark Fraser and Cory Murphy will continue to be given similar if not a little more ice time; they were decent against Pittsburgh with Fraser playing 14:08 and Murphy playing 12:53.  This meant a little less time for the top 4, giving them a little bit of a breather - which isn't such a bad thing considering how much ice time they've played over the last two weeks or so.    Of course, don't write any of this in stone because Jacques Lemaire will likely make some change during the game itself.

Check out Japers' Rink if you'd like to see this game from the Capitals' point of view or learn how the Capitals will approach this game.  Please leave any comments or questions or thoughts about the game in advance of the GameThread here.  Steve will hook you up tonight with a GameThread for in-game commentary.  Check out Gulitti and Chere in the morning and afternoon for any up-to-date news; and if necessary, I'll update this preview in the afternoon based on what's out there.