It's been only 2 weeks since the last time the New Jersey Devils visited the Island for a game. It's been 2 weeks since the Devils had a very bad game and lost 4-0. However, much has changed since then:
Martin Brodeur returned to the Devils and he's given up a total of 4 goals over 4 games, with 2 shutouts. Oh, and NHL.com has the Brodeur Watch back up on their front page. Yeah, I'd say he's "back."
Yeah, that's a pretty big difference!
The Devils also have added a new defenseman. Niclas Havelid became a Devil in exchange for Anssi Salmela on Tuesday. Chere reports he will debut this afternoon; and based on what Gulitti had on Thursday, he may be paired with Bryce Salvador to start off (I'm mixed on the idea, personally). In addition to Andy Greene, Mike Rupp will also not play, so it the same line-up from the Devils that we've seen in the past 4 games. Right down to Martin Brodeur, who will start according to Gulitti.
And if you want to a feel a bit more confident, consider what has happened this past season: the Devils have done very well against opponents who have shut them down in their last meeting. Especially in the last two cases.
On the Isles, they've done somewhat well in the 5 games since they beat the Devils and proven that the last-placed team in the NHL can play same strong hockey.
Last 5 Games
|New York Rangers||Thu 03/05||L 2 - 4|
|Colorado||Mon 03/02||W 4 - 2|
|Buffalo||Sat 02/28||W 2 - 0|
|Toronto||Thu 02/26||SO - L 4 - 5|
|@ Pittsburgh||Wed 02/25||L 0 - 1|
As Dom states at Lighthouse Hockey, the team is definitely committing to the youth movement by giving minutes to Jesse Joensuu and Jack Hillen (well, even more for Hillen) while continuing to feature Kyle Okposo, Blake Comeau, and Josh Bailey. In Joensuu and Hillen's recent callups, they've already put up a few points. OK, it's a goal for each of them (and an assist for Hillen), but it's something. The big man on the team still is Mark Streit and he remains a big threat from the point and whenever he feels like pinching in. I think the Devils backcheckers will have to give him special attention among others.
|2008 - Mark Streit||59||12||33||45||3||46||8||1||1||0||118||10.2|
Back to the Devils, I just noticed that Zach Parise has not scored a goal in his last 2 games. Given that the Devils as a whole didn't score any goals against the Islanders in their last game, I can think of no one better to lead the offensive charge today. And even if it's not Parise who does the deed, I still would like to see the offense just be relentless in challenging the goalie. Basically, if the Devils are able put 40 shots on Yann Danis again, they should make sure that at least half of those are actually difficult shots for Danis. Having a lot of shots on net does no team any good if the goaltender can easily stop him, after all.
Regardless, the Devils need to avoid letting the Islanders dictate the game. As long as the Devils don't play down to the Islanders, I think some level of revenge will be served. Sutter's quote to Gulitti from yesterday's practice about today's game and the 4-0 loss gives me confidence that the Devils will not do that. Hopefully, the performance will follow the coach's word. In the meantime, leave a comment in advance of today's game; and check out Lighthouse Hockey for all your Islanders needs.