BY TREVOR JAHNKE
Pittsburgh Penguins – 6-3-0 12 Points
New Jersey Devils – 4-1-3 11 Points
New York Islanders – 4-3-1 9 Points
New York Rangers – 4-4 8 Points
Philadelphia Flyers – 3 -6-0 6 Points
What’s on tap:
New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Pittsburgh Penguins (2X)
What’s at stake:
After the great start to the season the Devils dropped four games in a row before defeating the Islanders last night. They have a week that features eight possible points and three home games. This is a crucial stretch, with three of those four games coming against division opponents.
Matchup to Watch:
Tuesday against the New York Rangers 7:00 in Newark.
This new week starts with the Devs’ rivals from across the river. New Jersey plays host to the Rangers for the first time since Adam Henrique’s overtime goal knocked the Blueshirts out of the playoffs (easily my all time favorite moment at the Rock). But, credit where it’s due, the Rangers did finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference last year. This year they come in having retained all of their key players from last year, and the addition of former Blue Jacket Captain Rick Nash.
For this matchup NYR will be without Captain Ryan Callahan, who’s currently nursing a dislocated shoulder. In spite of this, the Blueshirts have been finding ways to win mainly due to the their first line of Rick Nash (2 Goals and 5 Assists), Brad Richards (2 Goals and 5 Assists), and Marian Gaborik (5 Goals and 3 Assists), but their depth beyond this line is a concern for Torts.
This will be an interesting test for the Red and Black. Recently their biggest failure has been staying out of the box. The Rangers, currently are ranked 28th on the powerplay, so they might not be in the best position to take advantage of this. It’s still probably not a good idea to put that to the test, so New Jersey must stay out of the box. This is a very winnable game will hinge on the Devils’ ability to stay at even strength, meaning don’t tack any instigator penalties onto the inevitable 5 for fighting.
After the game with the Rangers the Brick City Brotherhood will play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Cigar City has a really strong team this year, lead by last year’s 60 goal scorer, Steven Stamkos, who currently sits at 2nd in the league in points with 7 Goals and 9 Assists.
Martin St. Louis is also on fire as he is currently tied for the league leader in assists and Sami Salon is the league leader in plus/minus with +10.
The Bolts also have the 2nd best powerplay in the NHL, which could be a big problem for the reasons I’ve mentioned earlier. In order for the Devils to come away with a victory here they’ll need, not only to stay out of the box, but to keep their red hot forwards off the scoreboard. It’ll take a miracle….
The Devils finish the week with a home and away against the Pittsburgh Penguins. We remember that 5-1 defeat over this past weekend. Brendan Sutter, Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz, Robert Burtuzzo, and Sidney Crosby each scored a goal in that game.
Simply put Crosby has 13 points, Evgeni Malkin has 12 points, and Kunitz has 10 points, which is tough to defend against and then one of the Devs usually winds up in the box every time Crosby falls down crying. However, they can’t let this scare them off of a physical game. You give the penguins open ice to skate around and they’ll make you pay. The Devils have to play right up against the Pens to control the tempo and maintain decent possession. This weekend is going to be a very tough battle.
After going over the entire schedule for the Devils this season, this is the toughest week of the entire season. This will show what the Red and Black are made of. Hopefully home ice advantage will help propel the Devs to victory. I predict the Devils will win at least two this week.