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Game 57: Devils vs. San Jose

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The New Jersey Devils are rocking a three-game winning streak at home, and today's opponent is frightfully good team at the end of this 5 game homestead. The Boston Bruins are the best team in the NHL, based on their record. They have lost 4 games at home in regulation all season. And one of those 4 came just this past Tuesday by the team the Devils are facing today. By dropping four unanswered goals in the third period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 win.

Yeah, that 37-7-9 record isn't for show.

Yet, there is concern among the San Jose faithful. Mr. Plank at Fear the Fin and the comments on this post detail whether or not they should be concerned about the Sharks. They are 1-1-4 in their last 6. That win over Boston was their only one win within their last 6 games. The team's performance hasn't been up to snuff, particularly this player in the team's last game, a shootout loss to Buffalo.


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Evgeni Nabokov 41 2452 28 6 7 0 101 2.47 1105 1004 .909 4

The team is sick with the flu, they aren't doing so well, but consider this. The Sharks did go 1-1-4 in their last 6 games. Before this recent struggle, the Sharks were 36-6-5. I wouldn't take them lightly, I'm sure the Devils won't either. Regardless of Claude Lemieux meeting up with the Devils (as noted by Mr. K's gameday preview at Fear the Fin), this is still a team featuring Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Ryane Clowe (superfluous 'e' and all), Dan Boyle, Joe Pavelski, and Milan Michalek as the team's top producers, all with over 10 goals and 35 points.

Basically, if the Devils do such a less-than-good job passing the puck and in maintaining puck possession like they have done in their last 3 games, I don't think they will win this game. I felt the Devils got a bit lucky and a lot of help on defense and in net to beat Boston. To hope for a repeat occurrence would be stupid. I'm confident the Sharks would make the Devils pay for those mistakes. In my opinion, the best way for the Devils to avoid these mistakes is to simplify the passing at the start of the game. Keep them shorter (very few cross-ice passes), away from a defender's challenge, and nothing fancy (no no-looks, one-touches, etc.).

According to Gulitti, Scott Clemmensen will be the starter and has a shot at becoming a 25-win goaltender. Here's the NHL.com preview. Please feel free to leave a comment before, during, and after the game. Just keep it clean, keep it relevant, and Go Devils.