The Devils head out to Long Island for the second time in 8 games, and the third matchup overall with the Islanders.
The Time: 3:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG; Radio - 660 AM WFAN
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (3-1-3) vs. the New York Islanders (4-2-1, SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey)
The TiqIQ Ticket Link: With TiqIQ as a SBN Partner, this and future previews will include a link to the Devils' page so you can go out and find your own sweet ticket deals for Devils games online: New Jersey Devils tickets.
The Last Devils Game:
The Devils played a game at Pittsburgh yesterday, if you could call it that. In every way, this was the worst game of the Devils season so far. For the most part, it was just a full exposure of many of the underlying problems that exist with this team. The forward depth (or lack of) was totally exposed, so were some of the slower and more sedentary defenders. Who am I kidding, the faster defenders were exposed too. It was just a total beatdown by Pittsburgh. John recapped the game here.
The Last Islanders Game:
The last Islanders game was the game played at the Rock Thursday night, in which they were 5-4 OT winners over the Devils. From an Islanders perspective, it was a good night. Their power play was scorching hot, providing 3 of the 5 goals, including the OT game winner just seconds after a bad penalty by Tallinder and a bad misplay of the puck by Brodeur. The Islanders got 2 goals from John Tavares and one apiece from Keith Aucoin, Mark Streit and Brad Boyes. The Devils probably outplayed the Islanders at even strength in this game. It was really special teams that provided the extra for New York. The Devils were also unable to score on their own power play, besides being unable to stop the Islanders. Probably the Devils were lucky to get a point in this one, since they came from behind three times just to tie the game. It was frustrating, because it felt like a very winnable game, not one where they should be stealing a point. Here is John's recap of that game.
The Last Devils - Islanders Game:
Don't get burned on special teams. Don't take dumb penalties. I think there are several other goals too, after yesterday's Pittsburgh game. Better even strength play. Play better in the offensive zone. Get pucks in deep and sustain a forecheck. The Islanders are a fairly fast team that generate most of their offense off rushes up ice. A good way to slow them down would probably be to dump the puck in deep and chase it down, something the Devils are typically quite good at. The Devils were completely unable to do this effectively in their game yesterday against Pittsburgh.
For the first time this season, the Devils were thoroughly exposed for their lack of forward depth. So far this year they have been able to scrape by utilizing really 9 -10 forwards a night, and a third line that is truly a fourth line. Now, the depth shouldn't be as big of a problem against the Islanders, as they are not as deep, talented or as good at possession as Pittsburgh. The Gionta line was very active and pretty successful, I would think, without seeing Corsi charts or anything of the last Islanders game.
Bobby Butler was recalled from Albany on Saturday evening, and he should make his season debut in today's game. I think this is a move a lot of us were waiting for. I know I was. After watching most of Butler's games in Albany this season, I think he can definitely contribute to this forward group. I was very surprised he didn't make the team out of camp. Anyway, he is getting his chance now, and it is up to him to make the most of it. I imagine Butler will be skating with Josefson and Barch on the fourth line, but who knows.
Slow down the Tavares line. Not surprisingly, John Tavares is the Isles leading scorer (4g 7a). The Devils need to keep him as well as Kyle Okposo (1g 2a) and Matt Moulson (4g 4a) under wraps. John rightly pointed out to beware of the Grabner-Nielssen-Boyes line the other day. Grabner very nearly scored a breakaway goal shorthanded after blowing by Marek Zidlicky at the point and rushing up ice only to ring a shot off the post. Brad Boyes scored the winning goal in overtime. It was sort of a right place / right time situation, but nonetheless, it was the game winning goal. Keith Aucoin repped the third line with a goal, and Mark Streit chipped in one tally for the defense, as the Islanders got production straight up and down the lineup the other day.
A 30% conversion rate on the power play is now 37.5 % thanks to their efforts against the Devils on Thursday. If the same thing happens this game, the Devils are in a heap of trouble. Also, the Devils have to do better on the power play. They were unable to score last time against the Isles, going 0-5.
Come back soon Mark Fayne. The Devils have played two games without Mark Fayne in the lineup, and given up a grand total of 10 goals in those two games. Hopefully Fayne is ready to return soon from his "minor" wrist injury. The defense corps sure could use him. Anton Volchenkov had a brutally horrible turnover yesterday, and Bryce Salvador was just brutal. Toss in Marek Zidlicky whose been painful to watch. It probably will not just instantly solve all of their problems, but, nonetheless, come back soon Mark Fayne.
Are we sticking with this Elias -Zajac- Clarkson line? Because they were pretty much a disaster against Pittsburgh. I suspect DeBoer will give them another go, but if they can't generate more offense today than they did yesterday, its time to re-think that combo. All of the Devils forwards were pretty lousy, however, so let's look to everyone to get it going on Sunday and not just single out one line. Adam Henrique needs to contribute more than just his patented timely goals to justify a continued spot in the top line.
The Devils should look to take advantage of the Islanders lack of defensive depth. They had a reasonable amount of success on Thursday, and that should continue on Sunday. Perhaps Capuano will change the matchups slightly, but when you rely so heavily on your top three defensemen, there's only so much you can do. If nothing changes, the Devils should see a ton of Mark Streit, Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald in back, and to a slightly lesser extent, Brian Strait.
Will Pete DeBoer make any other changes to the Devils lineup, other than Bobby Butler? That remains to be seen, but there is very limited flexibility since they are carrying 8 defensemen and Stefan Matteau, who they can't use without initiating his ELC. Perhaps one of these days the Devils will sign Mathieu Darche and start to put together 4 real lines. For now, the team continues to go at it somewhat short handed up front due to roster decisions.
So, the Devils need to do a lot to get back on the winning track. The Islanders certainly won't be a pushover. These two teams have seen plenty of each other in the early going, so they should know what to expect out of each other. Will this be a bounce-back game for the Devils? It could be. The Devils need to get off to a fast start and not make any mistakes early. The Devils slower and more sedentary defenders need to not get burned by the speedy Islander forwards. The Devils forwards, need to take advantage of a relatively soft matchup of Islanders defenders. Moose needs to be sharp in goal, like he was Wednesday night in Boston.
Will the Devils be able to put Saturday's loss behind them? Will they get back on the winning track after going winless in their last 4 games? Or, will the Islanders continue their recent winning ways and triumph over the Devils? I am expecting the Devils to play a lot better Sunday after throwing in a clunker on Saturday. Do you think the Devils will have a bounce back game on Sunday? What can they do differently to regain their winning ways? Please leave your answers and any thoughts about the game in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.