Game 21 Preview: Looking To Slay A Giant
The Matchup: The Washington Capitals (14-5-2) face off against the New Jersey Devils (5-13-2). This is the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. Washington currently leads the season series, 1-0-0.
The Last Capitals Game: The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Capitals, 5-4, in a shootout Saturday night in Philadelphia. Down 3-1 in the third period, the Capitals used two straight powerplay tallies to tie the game. The teams then traded goals, ending regulation in a 4-4 tie. Danny Briere scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Flyers the win.
The Last Devils Game: The St. Louis Blues edged the Devils, 3-2, Saturday night in St. Louis. Tied 2-2 in the third period, Brad Winchester scored the game-winner, deflecting a point shot past Mike McKenna for the 3-2 lead. The Devils couldn’t solve Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 35 shots for the win.
The Last Capitals – Devils Game: The Capitals blew out the Devils, 7-2, on October 9 at the Verizon Center. New Jersey held a 2-1 advantage at the end of the first period, but the wheels fell off in the second. The Capitals scored four straight goals in the middle period – highlighted by two goals in less than a minute – to take a 5-2 lead. Martin Brodeur was pulled after two periods of play.
Tonight’s Matchup: This has the feeling of a David vs. Goliath matchup. The Capitals are their usual dominate selves, leading the entire league in points and looking like an unstoppable force. The Devils, meanwhile, haven’t caught many breaks during the season. This has the feeling of a blowout in the making.
The Devils need to continue their solid play. Saturday night’s game in St. Louis was disappointing because of the bad breaks against the Devils, not their overall play. They put 37 shots on net and played a relatively sound defensive game. But as its been all season, New Jersey couldn’t catch a break. The puck wouldn’t cooperate with the Devils, as it’s been the entire season, and cost the Devils.
Tonight’s important key will be the Devils’ discipline. The Caps have scored at least one powerplay goal in eight of their last 11 games, going 14-for-38 (36.8%) during that stretch. Giving a talented offensive team powerplay chances won’t bode well for the Devils, especially with their struggling penalty kill. I can’t expect New Jersey to play a game without taking a penalty, but they can’t be undisciplined. The team doesn’t need to give Alex Ovechkin and his talented teammates more ice to work with.
The Devils need this win tonight. Beating the Caps would show the team still has the ability to slay the power teams in the the conference. It would also be a nice start to the next 10 game segment. The Devils can’t continually lose points. They’re in no position to be careless with points. The team needs a win badly, and it would be a nice to get it over the Caps.
Gametime is 7 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN AM. Here’s a shot at the potential lineup for tonight’s game:
FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Alexander Vasyunov; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Brian Rolston – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta
DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov; Olivier Magnan – Matt Corrente
GOALIES: Johan Hedberg; Mike McKenna