Home > Game Previews > Game 62: Devils Look To Take A Bite Out of Sharks

Game 62: Devils Look To Take A Bite Out of Sharks

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (37-21-3) head west to face off against the San Jose Sharks (40-13-9). This is the first and only meeting between the two teams this season.

The Last Devils Game: The Devils last game before break was a forgettable one. Ray Whitney scored two powerplay goals, and Martin Brodeur was pulled in the 5-2 loss. For an entire game recap, click here.

The Last Sharks Game: The Sabres defeated the Sharks, 3-1, on February 13. Buffalo scored three times in the third period against Evgeni Nabakov to lead them to victory.

The Last Devils – Sharks Game: The teams last played each other February 15 of last year. Right-winger David Clarkson scored two goals – including the powerplay game-winner – in a 6-5 win at the Prudential Center.

Tonight’s Matchup: Both of these teams return to full-strength after the final Olympians arrived for the game. Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise, and Martin Brodeur all practiced with the team during their afternoon skate. With Brodeur receiving a full weeks rest during the Olympics, I expect to see him return in top form tonight.

David Clarkson #23 of the New Jersey Devils fights Erik Reitz #4 of the New York Rangers during their game on February 9, 2009 at The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Clarkson returns to lineup tonight after missing the past 23 games. Photo credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

The Devils also get back David Clarkson, who today was officially activated from injured reserve. The right-winger missed 23 straight games and 36 of the team’s last 38 games. His return will greatly impact this team. Not only does he give the Devils a physical presence, but Clarkson doesn’t mind crashing the net and scoring ugly goals. Both of these physical features will be a welcome sight. Before the injury, Clarkson was putting together a solid offensive season, with seven goals and eight assists in 25 games.

Finally, I found one interesting stat. Darren Shetler, my partner over at RunningWithTheDevils.com, talked to some Sharks bloggers today. They gave him an interesting stat: the Sharks have the second best winning percentage in the league when trailing after the first period. As I said through most of January and February, the Devils need to play a complete, sixty minute game tonight. The Sharks have plenty of firepower and a great goalie, which should push the Devils to play the entire game. But before the break we saw the team fail to play a complete game. It’ll be interesting to see how the Devils will come out tonight. I expect the return of Clarkson to give this team a boost, and look for them to play a full, sixty minute game tonight.

A few more numbers to throw at you: The Devils have only won five of their past 17 games (5-10-2) and are winless in their last six on the road.

Line combinations from the morning skate:

Forwards: Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner; Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Patrik Elias; Brian Rolston – Rob Niedermayer – David Clarkson; Jay Pandolfo – Dean McAmmond – Rod Pelley

Defense: Bryce Salvador – Andy Greene; Colin White – Mike Mottau; Mark Fraser – Anssi Salmela

Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur; Yann Denis

You can check out tonight’s game on Versus at 10:30 or, if in the New York area, MSG Plus. You can also listen to the game live on WFAN. Remember to check out the live blog tonight, right here on The Devils’ Den!

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