By Trevor Jahnke
What’s At Stake:
Pittsburgh Penguins – 2 wins, 0 losses, 0 overtime losses, 4 Points
New Jersey Devils – 1 win, 0 losses, 0 overtime losses, 2 Points
New York Islanders – 0 wins, 1 loss, 0 overtime losses, 0 Points
Philadelphia Flyers – 0 wins, 2 losses, 0 overtime losses, 0 Points
New York Rangers – 0 wins, 2 losses, 0 overtime losses, 0 Points
Welcome back to the Rock everyone. The great state of New Jersey is hosting it’s first NHL hockey game since last June when the Devils beat the Los Angeles Kings to push the series back to LA. Unfortunately for Devils fans, the series and the playoffs ended out west and as a result, only a new Eastern Conference Champions banner is hanging from the rafters of the Prudential Center.
For their first home game of the season the Brick City Brotherhood are hosting the Broad Street Bullies who are without one of their best players, Danny Briere. He is sidelined for a few weeks with a wrist fracture.
The Flyers won’t get as big of a break as the Devils did, having played back-to-back games to open up their season. They lost to both the Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres.
Although they are without Briere, they still have Claude Giroux, who recently became their new captain. It pains me to say Giroux was unbelievable last season, posting up 28 goals and 65 assists, not to mention his playoff stats against the Penguins.
The Flyers know the Devils well and vice versa. It should be a hard-hitting game. Seeing as how the Islanders only goal last Saturday came off their power play, the Red and Black really need to stay out of the penalty box as much as they can.
Jersey’s team cannot waste this opportunity. I consider this a must-win, since they play each other five times this year. They need to rack up as many wins against them before Briere comes back and brings another strength to their offense.
Then TGIF for Hockey Night when the Devils will play host to the Washington Capitals, who are now coached by former Devils assistant coach Adam Oates.
The Caps opened their season on a losing note. The Tampa Bay Lightning and beat them 6-3 on Saturday. Not a good night for goaltender Braden Holtby and I ought to know; I have him on my fantasy team.
But let’s not forget they are the team of Alex Ovechkin and he is always dangerous, despite no points on his stat line yet. I don’t think anyone is expecting that to last long.
The surprise of that game for the Caps came from Joel Ward, who scored twice, which is shocking considering he only had six goals all of last season.
Ovechkin gets so much attention that people tend to forget about Nicklas Backstrom. Last season Backstrom scored 14 goals and 30 assists, which doesn’t sound too impressive until you take into consideration the fact that he only played 42 games last year.
In the four games that the Devils played the Capitals last season, Jersey’s team was victorious three times. Two of those were shootout wins until their final meeting, when the Devils beat them 5-0.
The Devs should be well-rested with a two -day break while the Caps might be tired from playing host to the Montreal Canadiens the night before they play NJ.
Speaking of the Canadiens, The Devils are finishing this week on the road as they head up to Marty’s hometown of Montreal. The Canadiens lost their home opener to the Toronto Maple Leafs with their captain and former-Devil Brian Gionta scoring their only goal.
Last year, the Devils were victorious against the Habs three out of four times, with two of those victories taking place in Le Ville De Montreal.
Born and raised in Montreal, Marty always plays terrific there. As a matter of fact, the Canadiens haven’t beaten Marty or the Devils in their building since 2008.
Recently the Habs lifted a huge weight off of their backs by buying out the contract of Scott Gomez. Sure, they might not have the two magical goals he scores every year but in such a shortened season, they can’t afford to wait.
Devils fans know first-hand the energy and skill Captain Gionta brings to his team and it’ll be fun to see how his little brother will play against him.
These are three very winnable games for the Devils. If they can take at least two of these games, then they’ll be off to the good start Devils fans want. But to hell with the good start, let’s hope they have a GREAT start. In those home games, I want whoever’s going to them to cheer loudly and welcome in the new captain and congratulate the team on that amazing playoff run they had.