The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - WFAN 660 AM and 101.9 FM
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (29-23-7) at the Washington Capitals (42-10-4; SBN Blog: Japers' Rink)
The Last Devils Game: Last night the Devils fell to the Islanders in tough 1-0 contest. Casey Cizikas had the only goal of the game when the rebound from a Cory Schneider save on Nick Leddy hit his leg and deflected past Schneider. It was a bizarre goal but the only one needed to defeat the Devils. Overall, the Devils did have their moments in the first 2 periods of play but were unable to capitalize on any of their chances to tie the game. Reid Boucher had an active game and Cory Schneider was sharp as usual. Here is John's full recap of the game.
The Last Capitals Game: The Capitals defeated the Islanders 3-2 in overtime on Thursday. Alex Ovechkin had 2 goals in regulation and Justin Williams scored the game winning goal in OT. Braden Holtby made 20 saves as the Capitals outshot the Islanders 35-22. Here is a full recap of the game by Jason Rogers of Japers' Rink.
The Last Devils-Capitals Game: These teams last met on 2/6 when Washington walked away with a 3-2 shootout win. Andre Burakovsky and Paul Carey had the goals for Washington while Joseph Blandisi and Adam Henrique scored for New Jersey. Cory Schneider made 27 saves to Braden Holtby's 22 as the Devils were outshot 29-24. Here is John's recap of that game.
The Goal: This is easier said than done but the Devils have to finish on a few chances tonight. While I would like to see a more consistent offensive attack by the Devils throughout the game, it's just not going to be possible when facing a team as talented as Washington. One thing the Devils can do is suppress Washington's chances and rely on great to solid goaltending (depending on who starts) to keep them in it. Beating Braden Holtby is no easy task but the Devils will have to find some way to get pucks past him tonight. They could try to hit Washington on the counter attack, crash the net and jam home a garbage goal, or use the PP. No matter what, the Devils have to take advantage of the opportunities they earn tonight while maintaining a solid defensive game.
Stay Out of the Box: The Capitals come into this game with a NHL best 23.6 PP%. While the Devils 82.5 PK% is ranked 8th in the league, there is no reason to tempt fate. Nicklas Backstrom (23 PP Pts), Alex Ovechkin (18), Evgeny Kuznetsov (14), John Carlson (14), T.J. Oshie (11), and Matt Niskanen (11) are just some of the names that could pose danger to the Devils. The Devils have to stay disciplined tonight.
Washington's Forwards: Coach Barry Trotz changed his top 6 against the Islanders as Russian Machine Never Breaks noted. Evgeny Kuznetsov is now centering Alex Ovechkin and Justin Williams. Nicklas Backstrom is now centering Andre Burakovsky and T.J. Oshie. Either way, no matter the combination, Washington has plenty of talent up front and the Devils will need a team effort to contain them. We know Andy Greene and Adam Larsson are capable of the task so I'm interested in seeing how the Devils other defenders respond to this challenge. It will also be interesting to see if Damon Severson finds his way back into the line up for this game or if Seth Helgeson continues to stay in the line up with his physical presence.
Washington's Defense: According to Left Wing Lock, the Devils can expect to see a lot of Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner and John Carlson - Nate Schmidt. The Dmitry Orlov - Brooks Orpik pair will anchor the back end of Washington's defense. When you take into account special teams play, Niskanen and Carlson are averaging over 24 minutes per night. Expect the top 2 pairs of Washington to be very active tonight.
Possible Goaltending Matchup: We could very well see two of the top goaltenders in the world take each other on again tonight. Cory Schneider is coming off of a strong start last night and Keith Kinkaid had a shutout in his last start, but given the Devils need for points, Schneider and his .929 SV% may get the call tonight. Braden Holtby leads the league with 36 wins and has a .925 SV%.
Your Take: What do you expect to happen tonight? What will you be looking for? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!