Pregame Primer: Devils vs. Canadiens

Pat Pickens

The site of tonight’s contest; the Bell Centre in Montreal (Credit: Pat Pickens)

By Dave Turner

New Jersey Devils (3-0-0) at Montréal Canadiens (2-1-0) 6:00 pm Centre Bell, Montréal, Quebec.

Bonjour, bienvenue à Montréal!

Okay, so that’s about as much French as I know. Should be a good one, as the Devils have historically played well in Montréal.

Aside from Martin Brodeur making one of his last trips to his hometown in his career, 18-year-old Stefan Matteau will also make his homecoming. He’ll have a large contingency of family and friends there.

Here are some thoughts/questions from today’s game.

1. Speaking of Stefan Matteau, he’ll get a shot on the Devils’ top line alongside Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac. He has played pretty well so far and today he gets his chance. You have to think that this is his opportunity to impress. With the decision having to be made soon on whether Matteau will stick with the Devils, he’ll get top minutes in a homecoming game. If there’s ever a time to shine, it’s today.

2. Don’t underestimate Andrei Markov. The defenseman played only thirteen games last season and seven the year before, but he’s a major threat from the point. He has three goals and one assist so far on the season, in just three games. Markov makes the Habs power play very dangerous, which will be interesting to see, considering how many bad penalties the Devils have taken thus far. Imagine if they could actually sign P.K Subban.

3. Jacob Josefson is slowly turning into John Madden 2.0. Okay, so he’s not quite to the level of Mad-dog in his prime quite yet, but Josefson has shown some skill on the penalty kill and has been making some nice plays in the offensive zone as well. His assist on Stephen Gionta’s goal was a really nice play. The young Swede is turning into a dependable two-way player. He’s probably never going to dazzle you with his offensive skill, but he can do all the little things well.

4. Czech them out. Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky both had nice games on Friday and are two pivotal pieces of the power play, which needs to get going. Elias has a goal and two assists and Zidlicky has three assists on the year, including the gorgeous pass to Kovalchuk on his game winner against the Capitals. These two need to build on their strong games against Washington and translate it into some power play success.

5. Can the Devils really start 4-0? With the Flyers and Rangers both winning big last night, the pressure is on the Devils to keep up the pace. With the shortened season, it makes life much easier down the stretch if you can win some games now. The Devils need to strike while the iron is hot and find a way to get to 4-0, which would put pressure on the other Atlantic Division teams.

 My Prediction: Devils 3 Canadiens 1 (record picking Devils games to date- 0-2-0)

So I’m 0-for so far with my picks. I had the Capitals winning 3-2 on Friday night. Hopefully that changes for me tonight.  I like the idea of Matteau being on the first line with a lot to prove in front of all his family and friends. I think he’ll play well and be a difference maker. The second line of Zubrus-Elias-Clarkson is a strong fore-checking line that should give the small Canadiens some trouble as well.  Brodeur has been hot and he’s almost always great in Montréal, so I expect that to continue.

Tonight’s Lineup:

Forwards

Line 1: Steffan Matteau-Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk

Line 2: Dainius Zubrus-Patrik Elias-David Clarkson

Line 3: Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Steve Bernier

Line 4: Mattias Tedenby-Jacob Josefson-Cam Janssen

Defensive Pairings:

Bryce Salvador-Marek Zidlicky

Andy Greene-Mark Fayne

Henrik Tallinder-Anton Volchenkov

Starting Goaltender: Martin Brodeur

Tweet us your predicted score @DevilsInsiders before the puck drops.

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