The Devils will look to finish off back-to-back set against the Pennsylvania teams, as they take on the Penguins tonight.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (26-31-12) at the Pittsburgh Penguins (43-17-9; SBN Blog: Pensburgh)
The Time: 7:00 PM ET
The Broadcast: TV – MSG+; Radio - WFAN 660 AM and 101.9 FM
The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Flyers 6-2 last night at the Prudential Center. New Jersey fell behind late in the 1st period on a Michael Del Zotto goal but Kyle Palmieri quickly answered that back about a minute later with a goal of his own. The Devils took over the game from that point with Adam Henrique and Taylor Hall adding 2 goals and 4 shots each while Joseph Blandisi deflected one of his own past Steve Mason. Keith Kinkaid would only surrender one more goal in the game, to Brayden Schenn, as he made 17 saves on 19 shots. Travis Zajac had 2 assists and played a strong game. As Devin's full game recap noted, this win snaps a 10 game losing streak and saw the Devils put together a strong all around performance in all facets of the game.
The Last Penguins Game: Pittsburgh fell to their rivals from Philadelphia 4-0 on Wednesday. Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux, and Dale Weise had the goals for the Flyers. Matt Murray made 24 saves on 28 shots as the Penguins were outshot 28-23. Hooks Orpik of Pensburgh has this recap of what was a "flat" game by the Penguins. No doubt I'm sure we'll see a better Penguins team ready to play tonight.
The Last Devils-Penguins Game: These teams last met on December 27 with Pittsburgh earning a 5-2 victory over New Jersey. The Devils goals came from Adam Henrique and the since traded PA Parenteau. Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Justin Schultz, Carl Hagelin, and Bryan Rust had the goals for the Penguins. Cory Schneider made 24 saves on 28 shots while Marc-Andre Fleury had 21 saves on 23 shots. If you wish to re-live what John deservedly called a "bad game" for the Devils, then you can check out his recap of that game.
The Goal: Play as complete of a game as possible. I think it would be a bit unfair to expect the Devils to match last night's performance where they comfortably defeated the Flyers. The Penguins are the better team, were off last night, and the Devils had to travel right after their game. With that said, if the Devils keep it simple and just try to win on a shift by shift basis, then maybe we'll see them make a game of it and perhaps even steal a result in Pittsburgh.
The Youth: I thought last night was a good game for the team as a whole and this includes the young players. Joseph Blandisi played with a purpose and seemed to fit well with Adam Henrique and Beau Bennett. It was encouraging to see John Quenneville play just over 15 minutes and stay active at both ends of the rink. He even drew praise from Coach Hynes after the game for being a more complete player than compared to the begging of the season. I thought his line with Pavel Zacha and Stefan Noesen held up well. The 4th line of Miles Wood, Blake Pietila, and Nick Lappin did their part to provide energy and a physical prescence while spelling the top lines. I'd like Steve Santini draw back into the line up tonight to see how he reacts from being a healthy scratch.
The Top Penguins: Up front, you obviously you have to watch out for the generational talents like Sidney Crosby (74 points in 63 games) and Evgeni Malkin (72 in 62). It doesn't just stop there, you still have to deal with the talented Phil Kessel (61 in 69), Conor Sheary (43 in 49), and if available Patric Hornqvist (37 in 58). On the back end you have Justin Schultz (46 in 66) who seems to be enjoying life in Pittsburgh and Kris Letang (34 in 31) leading the way.
Potential Goaltending Matchup: I'd expect to see Cory Schneider (19-22-10, 2.72, .911, -3.78 Goals Saved Above Average) against the Penguins main man, Matt Murray (26-9-3, 2.37, .924, 12.12 GSAA). The 22 year old netminder for Pittsburgh is certainly off to an amazing start in his young career. Thanks to Hockey-Reference for the GSAA numbers.
Your Take: Which players do you think will make an impact tonight? What are your expectations for this game? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!