By Dave Turner
Much like Tuesday’s game that saw the desperate 0-2 Flyers come in to The Prudential Center needing a win, the Devils will be skating against another opponent who has yet to notch a win when the 0-3 Capitals visit tonight.
Washington comes in as the only team in the NHL without a point, so their best effort it to be expected. For New Jersey, they will be playing in front of another sellout crowd, looking to go to 3-0 on the year.
Here’s a six-pack of thoughts/questions coming into today’s game:
1. Once again, the Devils face a desperate opponent, but it didn’t seem to bother them last time. Against the Flyers, they got off to a quick start with the Travis Zajac goal. Scoring early again tonight is key. Taking the wind out of the sails of a demoralized team is huge, but on the contrary, giving them an early goal could get them rolling.
2. Oh, Hi there Adam Oates! Adam Oates became the Capitals head coach during the offseason and so far, it hasn’t been so great. You would have to think that Oates is familiar with a lot of things that the Devils do and he may be extra motivated to try and get a win in New Jersey.
3. Can the Devils keep it rolling? Two wins in two games to start the season, but both performances had their flaws. The black and red are yet to play a complete game yet, so you would have to think that Pete DeBoer has had an easy time keeping the team humbled in practice. There are certainly a lot of areas to improve, with the biggest being the power play, the area that Oates coached last year.
4. Will any new Devils get their first goals tonight? So far only three Devils have scored, Travis Zajac, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk. Notable omissions from that list include Patrik Elias, Dainus Zubrus and Jacob Josefson, who have all played well at points but are yet to light the lamp.
5. Will NJ be able to slow down Alexander Ovechkin? Over the years, the Devils have done a pretty nice job of negating the talented Russian. Ovechkin will be playing right wing tonight, as part of an experiment to boost scoring by Oates. Ovie has the ability to take over a game when he’s at his best, but he posted a career low 65 points (38g, 27a) last season and is yet to score so far this year.
6. How will the new lines work? Mattias Tedenby moves up from the second line to the first line alongside Zajac and Kovalchuk. He’ll have every chance to get some quality scoring opportunities, but he must show the ability to play two-way hockey on a line that will log major minutes. DeBoer is taking a risk putting Tedenby on the first line, but giving Tedenby a chance to shine may do a lot for his confidence. Dainus Zubrus drops down to the second line with Elias and Clarkson, which should give that line a devastating forecheck with the two big bodies. I like this line and I have a feeling they’ll get one tonight.
Prediction: Capitals 3 Devils 2 –
You would think maybe i’d learn my lesson after my horrible pick for the Flyers game. I just can’t see the Capitals liking the idea of falling to 0-4, so I expect them to come out strong. Though the Devils have played well, they haven’t played anything close to a 60-minute game yet. They’ll need to be much sharper than they were for most of the game against the Flyers if they want to get a win tonight.
(Year to date record picking the Devils: 0-1-0)
Line 1: Mattias Tedenby-Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk
Line 2: Dainius Zubrus-Patrik Elias-David Clarkson
Line 3: Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Steve Bernier
Line 4: Stefan Matteau-Jacob Josefson-Krys Barch
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.