The Last Devils Game: Last night the Devils were in Nashville were they stunned the Predators with a 5-4 OT win. The game featured the Devils debuts of Devante Smith-Pelly and David Warsofsky. The big story of the game was the Devils resiliency as they battled back from a deficit to force overtime and then win the game in the extra frame. Kyle Palmieri, Smith-Pelly, and Travis Zajac had the Devils first 3 goals. Adam Henrique tied the game with 40 seconds left in regulation and then won it in overtime on the PP. The Devils PP was a key to their success as it converted three times, twice to tie the game, and once to win it. Keith Kinkaid made a rare start and stopped 30 of the 34 shots he faced. Here is John's recap where he goes in-depth on the Devils win last night.
The Last Stars Game: Dallas is coming off of a 5-3 loss to the Predators in Nashville on Tuesday. Antoine Roussel, Jason Spezza, and Vernon Fiddler had the goals for the Stars. Antti Niemi started the game for Dallas but stopped just 14 of 18 shots and was removed in the 2nd period. Kari Lehtonen made 15 saves on 16 shots in relief. Ann Atkinson has the full recap from a Stars perspective over at Defending Big D.
The Last Devils-Stars Game: The Devils defeated the Stars 3-2 in OT on January 2. Kyle Palmieri and Bobby Farnham had the goals in regulation before John Moore won it in OT for the Devils. Cory Schneider made 29 saves on 31 shots. John's recap of that game was full of praise for the Devils performance against one of the best teams in the West. Hopefully we'll see another strong performance tonight.
The Goal: Keep stepping up. As John noted last night, both Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique were consistent offensive threats last night which is key with Mike Cammalleri out and Lee Stempniak no longer a member of the organization. The Devils need Palmieri and Henrique to lead the offense on a nightly basis now, along with Travis Zajc to a lesser extent. They can't do it alone though and that is where some of the young players come in. Reid Boucher and Joseph Blandisi have both been given an opportunity to show what they can do at this level. There play will not only dictate where they fit into the Devils line up for the remainder of this season but how they figure into the Devils future plans. They have a great opportunity and I would like to see them continue to produce and stake their claim. Devante Smith-Pelly had an awesome debut for the Devils last night and is likely to get more ice time down the stretch for the Devils than he's had in Anaheim or Montreal. He's another player with an opportunity to showcase his game and I'm hoping he'll be able to step up and contribute for the Devils. This doesn't just apply to young players or forwards, as this Devils team will need all the help they can get and it's on everyone to find a way to elevate their play to the best of their abilities.
The Stars Offense: Dallas is 2nd in the league in goals per game with an average of 3.18. Needless to say, the Devils and Cory Schneider will need to be on their "A" game tonight. Up front, the Dallas offense is led by Jamie Benn with 32 goals and 39 assists in 65 games. Tyler Seguin is right behind with 32 goals and 36 assists in 65 games. Patrick Sharp is next with 47 points in 65 games but is expected to be out with a lower body injury. Jason Spezza has 46 points in 59 games. Dallas also gets some contributions from their blue line as John Klingberg has 10 goals and 43 assists in 65 games followed by Alex Goligoski with 4 goals and 23 assists in 65 games.
Special Teams: One reason Dallas averages such a high amount of goals per game is because they have a 21.8 PP% which ranks 5th in the NHL. The Devils PK didn't have a great showing last night in Nashville so I'm hoping the Devils play a disciplined game to keep the Stars PP sidelined. When the PK does have to do work, hopefully they have a much better showing. While we're on the subject of PK's, Dallas' ranks 22nd in the NHL at 79.1%. The Devils PP was awesome last night and ranks 8th in the NHL at 21.6%. Hopefully the Devils can draw some calls and try to do damage on their PP's since this game will be hard enough at even strength. (Stats from NHL.com)
Changes for the Devils?: I don't expect any changes for the Devils after last night's dramatic victory, but you never know with these back-to-backs. Bobby Farnham was a scratch last night but did score in the last Devils-Stars matchup. Plus it's not like the Devils bottom 6 players are untouchable. One more likely line up change could be the return of Damon Severson. Jon Merrill would be the likely candidate to come out with his inconsistent play but I'm not expecting it. I also think it's likely that new Devil, David Warsofsky gets a run of games to prove himself so the Devils can figure out what they have (or don't have) in him.
Likeley Goaltening Matchup: Cory Schneider is a lock to start for the Devils. He comes into the game with a .924 SV% in 54 games along with 38 Quality Starts (via Hockey Reference) which is tied for the league lead. Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen have been splitting starts for Dallas for the majority of the season. Neither goaltender has been that good though. Niemi comes in with a .903 SV% in 42 games and just 39.5% of his starts have met the Quality Start criteria. Lehtonen has a .906 SV% in 31 games and just 48.1% of his starts have met the Quality Start criteria. The Devils need to exploit this tonight.
Your Take: What are you looking forward to tonight? Would you like to see any line up changes? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!