The Devils head to Pittsburgh, to face an opponent on a mini-slide.
The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (13-13-7) vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins (21-8-5)
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+2; Digital Audio – The One Jersey Network
The Last Devils Game: The losing streak is finally over, and in a big way! Last night, the Devils beat the Flyers to the tune of 4-0. The first period was beautiful to watch, with the Devils obtaining a 2-0 lead. Oh yeah, and there were a lot of penalties. 46 minutes combined, to be exact. The first goal came on the Devils power play, which has struggled this season. Some good puck-cycling led to Michael Cammalleri getting the puck, and slapping a shot off Parenteau and into the net. Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas thankfully both left too much space for Parenteau, and he was able to deflect the puck without any trouble, and a 1-0 Devils lead. The second Devils goal also featured more poor play from Brandon Manning. Miles Wood first entered the zone, and sped behind the net. Brandon Manning initially made a good play in taking the puck away from Wood. However, he didn’t deliver a clean enough pass to Claude Giroux, and Adam Henrique was able to take it away. Henrique then fed it to Wood, who fed it back to Henrique for a shot that deflected off Mason and sat in the crease. Wood was right there, and easily deposited it for a 2-0 lead. The entertaining part of the period was the fights, however. The first fight occurred between Seth Helgeson and Dale Weise. Both of them can fight, and the fight certainly was entertaining to watch. The real surprise however, was Michael Cammalleri dropping the gloves at the end of the period. Cammalleri held his ground, and I think he actually won the fight, which is surprising. For a sport in which the fighting aspect is dying, this was entertaining to watch.
The second and third period were much more toned down. There were some misconducts in the 3rd period, but it was fine other than that. Henrique’s goal came off a nice feed from Hall, for a 3-0 lead. Kyle Palmieri’s goal came on the powerplay, on a tip-in. A 4-0 win — Something Devils fans haven’t seen in a while.
The Last Penguins Game: A description of this game from a friend of mine who’s a Penguins fan: RIP. The Penguins were destroyed 7-1 by the Blue Jackets last night. Matt Murray had an unnaturally bad game, and Fleury didn’t have much at him for the rest of the game. The game started with another Sidney Crosby goal off a batted puck. After that, it was Atkinson, Karlsson, Hartnell, Hartnell, Saad, Jenner, and Hartnell. A 7-1 score speaks for itself in how well the Penguins played. Yes, the Blue Jackets are a very good team, but a 7-1 score is unacceptable. I expect slight changes to be made for the Devils game.
What to Hope For: Maybe another win? Possibly? If anything, I just want the Devils to play as well against the Penguins as they did against the Flyers. Also, Schneider’s shutout today should hopefully provide him with more confidence moving forward. I especially liked the goal that Miles Wood and Adam Henrique provided. The determination by Henrique and Wood, as well as the cycling, showed what the Devils team has been lacking the past seven games. I also liked how the Devils refused to be bullied by the Flyers, and actually fought back. This grittiness and determination could help the Devils go far.
Penguins Attack: Even in the 7-1 loss, Crosby still scored his NHL leading 23rd of the year. The Penguins lead the league in goals per game, and Malkin, Crosby and Kessel all average a point-per-game or more. Defensemen Justin Schultz and Kris Letang provide offensive ability, and Olli Maatta serves as the stable defenseman on the ice.
A player to highlight is Conor Sheary. Initially undrafted, the 2nd-year player has had himself a very nice season. He’s already topped his production from last year -- playing on a line with Crosby will do that — and has an essential role in this Penguins offense. Prior to the assist in the Columbus game, which was really just Crosby anyway, Sheary hadn’t recorded a point in three games.
The aforementioned Justin Schultz has been hot offensively as of late. In his past 6 games, he has 3 goals and 4 assists. He has found himself playing over 20 minutes a game recently, and he has responded well to the pressure. Still only 26, Schultz could further develop as an offensive threat, and match the potential he had so much of during his time in Edmonton.
Goalies?: Cory Schneider just had his first shutout of the season, so should they ride that for this game? On the other hand, Keith Kinkaid has had himself a very nice season. Personally, as this is against Pittsburgh, I would like Kinkaid to start. Schneider could use some building up in his confidence, and Pittsburgh likely won’t help that. Kinkaid also had a very good game against Pittsburgh the last time these two teams met.
On Pittsburgh’s side, I have no idea who will start. Murray was abysmal against Columbus, and Fleury was forced onto the ice. I expect it to be Fleury starting, but Pittsburgh could want to get Murray going again. We’ll see tomorrow.
Changes?: While the game against Philadelphia was very good, I still would love to see Luke Gazdic out of the lineup. Devante Smith-Pelly hasn’t lived up to expectations this year, but he’s not a terrible player. I think he should go in for Gazdic. As for Lappin and Quincey, Lappin’s benching shows that Hynes is starting to lose trust in him. Before recently, I was a huge fan of how Lappin played, but he has slowly faded into the background. Kyle Quincey is Kyle Quincey.
Thoughts: Let me know what you guys think about this game? Score predictions? Comment what you guys would like to happen in this game, and thank you for reading!