Are you ready for the Hurricane?
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - 660 AM & 101.9 FM WFAN
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (23-26-9) vs. The Carolina Hurricanes (21-29-7; SBN Blog: Canes Country)
The Last Devils Game: Last night, the Devils started well, out-shooting, out-passing, and generally out-skating the Vancouver Canucks. Patrik Elias took a shot and scored a goal from the side boards, something you typically might not expect, but the Devils haven't been shooting much lately so it was nice to see what can sometimes happen from doing so. It continued into the second period when Adam Larsson made a nice pass to send Jordin Tootoo on his way for a rather soft goal by Eddie Lack. A minute or so later, Mike Cammalleri scored on a power play and the Devils were up 3-0. Done deal, right?
The Canucks got one back moments later on a pretty passing play that started with the Sedins and ended with Zach Kassian all alone in front of Schneider. The Canucks started taking it to the Devils and carried much of the play for the rest of the second period. They would continue doing into the third where Kassian scored again to pull the Canucks within one. The Devils would eventually secure the win with Cammalleri's second of the night, this one into the empty net. John's recap is here.
The Last Hurricanes Game: Last night, brothers Eric and Jordan Staal scored first period goals, which were enough to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their goals were sandwiched around Brandon Kozun's first NHL goal for the struggling Maple Leafs. Carolina had a rather easy go of it as the Leafs failed to mount any serious attempt to get back in the game. They managed only twelve shots over the final forty minutes, and failed to generate a single shot on four power play chances. Carolina should be well rested heading into tonight's game in Jersey. The recap over at Canes Country is here.
The Last Devils - Hurricanes Game: Back on December 23rd, John's recap opened with a definition of insanity. Yea. It was not a pleasant contest between the two teams. Carolina dominated the Devils and were only denied a victory from open play due to the titan between the pipes that is Cory Schneider. Carolina would eventually prevail in a shootout on a goal from Chris Terry after Ron Hainsey tied the game, forcing overtime and subsequent shootout. Stephen Gionta had the Devils lone tally.
The Goal: Just be competitive. Resemble a hockey team that isn't incompetent. Either of those will be fine with me. We know this team is not making the playoffs, despite whatever is reported. As trade deadline talk will be part of any discussion involving the Devils, the team still plays games after March 2nd. The team will still line up and have to play twenty-odd games or so. Resembling a hockey team that can perform basic actions like passing, exiting the zone, getting pucks on goal, any of those would be encouraging signs that this team won't be a horror show each night.
Last night, the Devils were many of those things. They created plenty of chances, were carrying the play for decent stretches of the game, and ended up with some deserved points. That's impressive for this club. Can they do it for two games in a row?
Ruutu and the 'Canes: Last season, the Devils acquired Tuomo Ruutu and then played against his former team just three nights later. He ended up scoring the winner, which was a pretty cool moment for him, I imagine. Can he make a similar impact against his former club this time around?
Not Quite a Hurricane: More like a brisk wind, really. Here's the point totals for the 'Canes skaters. It's an uninspiring list...until you look at the Devils that is. Both of these teams have had horrid offensive seasons and I don't expect much else than a low-scoring affair tonight. Carolina has had the better of the Devils this season, as in both of their previous meetings they outplayed the Devils all over the ice. Will it continue tonight?
The one thing the Hurricanes do excel at is killing penalties, as they are currently tops in the league. Let's see here, league's best penalty kill goes up against a power play led by Jordin Tootoo. Hmm, I wonder how that matchup will turn out.
Continuing the Coaching Audition: Is the next Devils coach already behind the bench? It's difficult to truly assess either Scott Stevens of Adam Oates based on the lack of adequate talent on this roster, but one of the reasons to continue tuning in is to see--once Lamoriello leaves the bench--how the team reacts and performs under their guidance. Have we seen enough of them in the past (Stevens with the Devils; Oates with the Devils and Capitals) to know what to expect from them going forward? Or, should they be given more time beyond this season with, hopefully, better (read: younger) talent on this roster?
Comings and Goings: The deadline is only nine days away. One would hope that several UFAs are sent packing in an attempt to rebuild the team's prospect pool. Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, Steve Bernier, Martin Havlat, Scott Gomez, and Marek Zidlicky are all on expiring contracts that should be moved for something, anything. Another reason to tune in is each game could Jagr's last as a Devil. Regardless of how last season and this season have gone, it has been truly a blessing to watch an all-time great wear a Devils sweater. He is nothing if not the consummate professional and just so damn fun to watch.
Your Thoughts: What will you be watching for? Personally, every time I think of Carolina I think back to Game 7 in 2009 and am filled with rage. I just can't ever not hate this team. I'm all for the Devils staying as close as they can to the bottom of the standings for the best possible chance of drafting a kid like Strome or Marner, but tonight I'd like them to win by a healthy margin. With Jagr's time coming to an end in Jersey, what will you remember most about him? What would you like to see from the coaching staff? Sound off below and enjoy the game!