The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV- MSG, Radio: 660 AM, 101.9 FM WFAN
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (9-2-3) vs the New York Islanders (5-7-1; SBN blog: Lighthouse Hockey)
The TiqIQ Ticket Link: Want to make that last-minute trip to Long Island for some reason? Check out our partners at TiqIQ to get some seats for this game off the secondary market. Here's a link: New Jersey Devils tickets.
The Last Devils Game: The second rate rivals got off to a hot start (even noted magician Claude Giroux showed up instead of treating us to one of his famous disappearing acts!), but they let their foot off the pedal and the Devils came back to win 5-3. John's recap of the game can be found here.
The Last Islanders Game: The Islanders squared off against our hated rivals on Thursday. They went down early, but thanks to a 3 goal comeback fueled by their grinders, the Isles were able to take them down in the
gimmick shootout. Dominik's recap can be found here.
The Last Devils-Islanders Game: The Devils were in a bit of a slump back then, but thanks to a spectacular performance from Johan Hedberg and a two goal effort from Steve Bernier, the Devils shut down the Isles en-route to a 3-0 victory. John has a recap of the game here.
The Goal: Over the first few games, the Isles have proven to be a very dangerous offense team that averages 3 goals a game, 7th best in the league. On the flip side of the coin, they're an average possession team (49.39 FenTied) that hemorrhages goals- their 3.54 GAA is the second worst in the league. The goal for the Devils- do what they do best and keep the pressure on the Isles and stay out of the box, because the 6th best power play in the league can do some damage.
Not a One Man Team: While John Tavares is the linchpin of the Isles offense, they've been getting goals from everyone. Matt Moulson continues to be one of the league's most underrated (and underappreciated) goal scorers. Former 40 goal scorer Brad Boyes is on a bit of a redemption tour with 4 goals and 10 points. Frans Nielsen, Keith Aucoin and Michael Grabner round up their secondary scoring. The Isles are also getting good offense from their back end- Mark Streit and Travis Hamonic have a combined 11 points between the two, while Lubomir Visnovsky's got 3 points since returning after a hold-out. The top pairing will have their hands full with Tavares and Moulson, but the rest of the team has to play sharp- they've got plenty of guys who can score.
The Best Defense is Offense: The Isles strength is their high powered offense. What's the best way to deal with a team that's good at offense but not so good at defending? Well, keep them in their own zone. The Isles biggest weakness is that they're an awful defensive team. Mark Streit and Travis Hamonic lead the way in ice time and take the toughest competition, but they're negative possession players and they're both above 4 GA/60- which isn't very good. Plus it keeps their forwards in check- Matt Moulson can't shoot the puck when he's in his own zone, and John Tavares can't make plays when a Devil has the puck.
Possession is Important, Shots on Goal are More Important: John pointed out in his recap that the Devils did manage to get 41 shot attempts- however, only 19 of them were credited as shots on goal (5 of them were goals). While we can't expect whoever's in net for the Isles to be as terrible as Ilya Bryzgalov was last night (side note: lol Bryzgalov), not getting pucks on net isn't a viable tactic for winning hockey games.
Get off to a Hot Start: The Devils biggest problem this season has been the poor starts in the first period. Getting a good start to the game should set the tone and more importantly, put them in a position where they're more likely to succeed. The Devils would have to be real lucky to score multiple unanswered goals on back to back nights.
With all that being said, what's your take on tonight's game? Are you happy that the Devils are getting all their games with the Islanders out of the way? Do you think that they'll be able to match us with the momentum with the big win over our hated rivals (Whom they hate equally)? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.