New Jersey Devils – 8-1-3 19 Points
Pittsburgh Penguins – 8 -5-0 16 Points
New York Rangers – 6-5-0 12 Points
Philadelphia Flyers – 5-7-1 11 Points
New York Islanders – 4-7-1 9 Points
What’s on tap: Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders
What’s at stake: The Devils have a three game week, with another two divisional games on the dockett. All three of these teams have struggled some as of late so you have to want five points from this week and you can live with four. The Devils have been hot, but you can’t expect them to be perfect every week. Really, five points would be the optimal expectation here.
Matchup to Watch: Devils vs. the Philadelphia Flyers, Friday at 7:00 in Newark
The Devils are 6-1-1 against teams within their own division and are deservingly at the top of the division and the conference, mainly thanks to the DeBoer system, which has New Jersey at a season best 5 wins in a row.
This week starts off with the Devils playing host to the Carolina Hurricanes. I’ve always thought of the Hurricanes as the biggest out-of-division foes for the Devs. They stole our colors (which we ever so nicely borrowed from the Blackhawks), we had to go through them to win our last cup, they had to beat us to win their only cup, and they knocked us out of the playoffs in the last minute of game seven during the 09 playoffs (one of the darkest moments in Devils history).
The Hurricanes haven’t been anything special so far this year despite acquiring Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin. The Canes are currently 9th in the Eastern Conference at 5-4-1
The Staal Brothers are doing pretty well. Captain Eric Staal is leading his team in goals (8) while Jordan is leading the Canes in assists (10). Besides the Staal Brothers the Hurricanes are getting help from Jeff Skinner (7 Goals and 5 Assists) and Semin (3 Goals and 7 Assists).
Last night the Hurricanes beat the Islanders 6-4 with goal contributions from E. Staal, Skinner, Semin, Tim Wallace, and Jiri Tlusty. The Devs need to take advantage of their short rest which shouldn’t be a problem, they taken advantage of moments like this before and the Devils really want their streak to continue.
When Friday comes along, the Brick City Brotherhood will once again play host to the Broad Street Bullies when the Flyers come back to Newark.
Last time the Devils played the Flyers, New Jersey shut Philly out 3-0 with goals from Zajac, Clarkson, and Kovalchuk. Since then the Flyers have been up and down, they seem to have trouble gathering momentum whenever they fall behind in the score and as the Devils proved last year in the playoffs the Flyers seem to have trouble playing against the Devils forecheck.
But, this time the Devils will have to contend with Danny Briere, a constant thorn in their side. Currently he has 2 goals and 2 assists in eight games but I don’t think that’ll last. He’s too talented to stay quiet and the Devs better keep an eye on him.
But, Jersey’s team will most likely be looking out for Matt Read who’s currently leading the team in points and goals (5 goals and 4 assists). Not Clarkson numbers, but not bad.
Yes the Devs are playing better lately and the Flyers can’t seem to figure out a way past the Devils forecheck, but they’re not going to just let the Red and Black embarrass them again. Expect fights and big hits from both sides.
After the Flyers, the Devils travel back to Uniondale to once again take on the New York Islanders. So far the season the Devs are 2-0-1 against the Isles with their only loss coming in an overtime loss 5-4.
The Isles have plummeted after their great start. However, they still seem to matchup well against the Devs, even though the Red and Black shut them out 3-0 they didn’t start scoring until there was 4 minutes left in the game.
John Tavares is still their superstar, leading the Isles in Points (13) and Goals (6). While Frans Nielson is leading in the assists category (8) but he doesn’t have a goal.
The Islanders need to turn their season around soon or they’re going to have another early summer.
The Devs have an easier schedule this week and they need to capitalize on it. If they complete this week with 2 wins or less it would be a disappointment.
Have a Happy Valentines Day everyone. Let’s Go Devils.