The Time: 7:30 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - WCBS 880 AM
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (6-5-2) at the Detroit Red Wings (6-3-4, SBN Blog: Winging It In Motown)
The Last Devils Game: Despite a late offensive surge last night, the Devils fell 4-3 against the St. Louis Blues, dropping both games of the home and home set. Alex has an in-depth recap of the contest which notes that the Devils offense was too late to arrive. After Alexander Steen put the Blues up 3-0 with a power play goal midway thru the third period, all hoped seemed lost. However, Michael Ryder scored with just over 3 minutes left which seemed inconsequential at the time. A David Backes power play goal less than a minute later after a Damien Brunner hooking penalty would restore the deficit to 3 goals. The Devils stormed back with Marek Zidlicky and Ryder once again adding goals but they ran out of time. The Devils did manage to put pressure on in the final seconds but Travis Zajac was unable to tie it up on a great look as the clock was winding down. It's worth noting that Peter DeBoer pulled Cory Schneider to give him a rest after the Blues took the 3-0 lead and that Keith Kinkaid made his season debut, stopping 3 of 4 shots in 10:17, unfortunately picking up the loss. Also, Ryane Clowe left late in the first period with an undisclosed injury.
The Last Red Wings Game: On Wednesday night in New York, the Red Wings lost to the Rangers 4-3 in overtime. J.J. from Kansas has the in-depth analysis of that game for Winging It In Motown. The game was a back and forth contest with the Rangers taking a 2-0 lead before Jakub Kindl and Daniel Cleary tied it up in the second period. The Rangers took a 3-2 lead in the middle of the third period before Tomas Tatar scored a power play goal with 8 seconds left to force overtime, where they would ultimately fall.
The Goal: The Devils need offense...consistent offense. The late outburst last night was nice but they can't rely on lightning strike scoring. They need to create better opportunities throughout the game. One way to do this is to improve their zone exits and entries. Jaromir Jagr spoke about the importance of this to Tom Gulitti of The Record after last night's game. He highlighted that they don't make good breakout passes and as a result, end up expending a lot of energy chasing the play instead of creating it. Jagr mentions that the Devils tend to chip the puck out of their zone by using the boards too much instead of attacking the opposition in the neutral zone, as a result, going on the defensive instead of attacking play. Ryan recently had an interesting post breaking down the Devils entries and exits. You can see that even when the Devils exit the zone with possession, they are keen to resort to the dump and chase zone entry strategy. We'll have to see if the Devils alter their play slightly after Jagr's honest assessment of the system.
Riding Schneider: Cory Schneider has started every game for the Devils this season and that will continue tonight as DeBoer confirmed after last night's game. With 743:17 minutes played this season, Schneider only trails Winnipeg's Ondrej Pavelec by about 10 minutes. Keith Kinkaid chewed up about half of the third period last night to give Schneider a bit of a breather. Hopefully he will still be fresh enough to put in a strong performance tonight. Schneider currently has a .910 SV% but has been strong in 5v5 play, with a .935 SV%, good for fourth amongst goaltenders with at least 450 minutes played at 5v5 according to Puckalytics.
PK Still Struggling: The Devils penalty kill still remains to be an issue early in the season. Last night they allowed the Blues to go two for three on the power play. It comes as no surprise that the Devils currently rank last in the league with a 66.7% success rate on the penalty kill. According to Puckalytics the Devils PK is in the middle of the pack in Fenwick Against per 60 and Corsi Against per 60 in 4v5 situations but when it comes to allowing shots against they are towards the bottom of the pack. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the unit to see if they can do a better job of blocking shots and making the reads to disrupt passing lanes. I'd also like to see them do a better job at covering the opponent at the top of the crease, as Severson was victimized there on the Steen goal last night.
Injuries Starting to Pile Up: Last night Ryane Clowe left the game late in the first period with an undisclosed injury. If he is going to miss time, he will join Mike Cammalleri, Martin Havlat, Jon Merrill, and Adam Henrique on the injured list. Jordin Tootoo could be ready to return to face his old team but that is hardly an inspiring option for Devils fans that want to see more offense out of the team.
About Detroit: The Red Wings currently rank 7th in Fenwick For% (53.3) and tied for 3rd in Corsi For% (54.6) in 5v5 situations according to Puckalytics. They were a top ten possession team last season so this year's figures aren't a surprise. The offense is fairly spread out amongst their top six of Justin Abdelkader-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Tatar and Johan Franzen-Henrik Zetterberg-Gustav Nyquist. Jimmy Howard is off to a strong start this season with a .928 SV% in 10 starts.
On special teams the Red Wings have the 4th best penalty kill with a 88.9% success rate and the 25th best power play with a 13.7% success rate. Due to Detroit's power play not clicking, this could be a good game for the Devils penalty kill to get back on track.
Your Take: The Devils have lost two straight and will face a tough test against the Red Wings tonight. How do you think they will do? What match-ups are you looking for in this game? How concerned are you about the way the team is playing in transition? Are you worried about the injuries and the way it has affected the personnel available? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!