The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - 660 AM, 101.9 FM WFAN.
The Last Devils Game:
Last night, things looked promising. Barely a minute into the second period, Mike Cammalleri would give the Devils a 4-1 lead over the Detroit Red Wings. Then, well, the Devils gave their fans another reason to be frustrated. Detroit, in no surprise, had their way with the Devils. They've bossed around their conference opponents from New Jersey with regularity over the last season and two months. At least they didn't put seven goals behind Cory Schneider this time. John's recap is here for those that missed it.
The Last Islanders Game: The Isles went down to the nation's capital and skated away on the wrong end of a 5-2 drubbing. Most of the blame could be laid at the feet of backup goalie Chad Johnson, who only saved 22 of 26 shots. It was the Isles first loss in over a week--they had won five straight before that, something the Devils haven't done since...Hold on, I'm still thinking.
Dom's recap at LHH is here.
The Last Devils-Isles Game:
They have yet to play each other this season, but these team's matchups have usually been close, low-scoring affairs. Looking at last season's five games, these have been the scores: 4-3 Isles in a shootout, a 2-1 Devils win, a 6-1 pounding by the Devils (the exception), and two more shootout wins by the Islanders by 2-1 and 3-2 margins. I don't expect this trend to continue. Why? Because these aren't the Islanders you're looking for.
Where is this Team Going?:
In yet another season of middling results (win one, lose one, lose two, win two), the Devils look like a team that can't decide where they should be in the standings. Should they be a playoff team? Should they finally enter a dramatic overhaul of their forwards? This team looks stuck in neutral. They are currently 5th in the worst division and are closer to last than they are to first. The Devils are only six points ahead of the Buffalo Sabres, a team that is not trying to be competitive. Six points from garbage.
This team has become decidedly average. Looking their record from the start of the lockout season, the Devils are 63-58-32, five wins above "NHL .500," but that's nothing to be proud of. The positive for these Devils under DeBoer was that they were always a good possession team and it was other factors keeping them back. Well, that's the case this season. The Devils have a 50.1% Corsi Percentage and are in the bottom half of the league of possession metrics. They are even worse by Fenwick, (48.3%), and even worse looking at just shot-differential (47.6%). Again, where is this team going? No one likes to hear the cry of "Fire DeBoer," but I have yet to see a GM fire a team mid-season.
Keeping pace as best they can. In John's preview yesterday, he said he would have been happy with a point. I can't expect much more than that tonight. With the Metro division coming down to the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Islanders, the Devils need to secure whatever points they can in order to keep pace with the other Metro teams vying for that 3rd spot and a playoff berth. If you can't stay ahead of teams in the worst division in the league, then there's something wrong and it's not just putting in a "60-minute" effort.
New Faces, New Places
The Islanders shrewdly acquired Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy on the eve of the season beginning and they have been stellar acquisitions. In fact, these two are the Isles' best possession players. Oh, and they have a guy named John Tavares.
Next Man (Men) Up
The Devils lost Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique last night. In John's recap, he mentioned there was no update as to their availability for tonight's game. We'll probably have to wait until the morning (optional) skate to see who will be available. But, if they are without even one of them, it makes a tough game that much harder. Islanders, be merciful.
Your Take: Now I'd like to hear from you. At the 24-game mark, how are you feeling about your Devils? Will you be satisfied with just a point tonight? Sound off below!