Home > Season Preview > Devils 2011-12 Schedule Preview: Carolina Hurricanes

Devils 2011-12 Schedule Preview: Carolina Hurricanes

Mattias Tedenby played hero on the February 8 matchup, scoring two goals en route to a 3-2 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Photo Credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the 2011-2012 schedule, breaking down matchups and providing in-depth analysis of their opponents. Today, we the preview this season’s matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The mention of the Carolina Hurricanes still paints a painful picture in the minds of every New Jersey Devils’ fan. Just two short years ago, the Carolina scored two goals in 80 seconds to knock New Jersey out of the playoffs. Since then, New Jersey hasn’t found success in the playoffs. Their meetings, however, are definitely more heated.

The ‘Canes came up just short of the playoffs last season, missing out by one point. The Devils helped hold them back, winning three of four against them. Carolina lost one of the faces of their franchise, but has another upcoming. Always a playoff contender, the Devils will once again face a tough test against their southern rivals.

The History Behind The Matchup

In 113 meetings, New Jersey is 58-41-2 with 12 ties against Carolina. They’ve averaged 3.19 goals for during the head-to-head matchup (360 total) and only allow 2.96 goals against per meeting (335 total). They’re the only opponent that’s played over 100 games against the Devils and averaged less than three goals per game.

The Devils and Canes squared off four times last season, all between January and February. Carolina took the first meeting, 6-3, on New Year’s Day in Raleigh. Tuomo Ruutu opened the scoring, finding the back of the net on the powerplay just 1:48 into the first period. Jeff Skinner made it 2-0 at 4:28 of the opening frame, and Sergei Samsonov stretched the lead to three with a powerplay tally at the eight minute mark. The goal chased Martin Brodeur, who recorded just four saves. The two teams traded scores later in the period, and Carolina entered the break ahead 4-1.

The scoring wouldn’t end there. Travis Zajac scored 49 seconds into the second period, closing the gap to 4-2. Samsonov would score another powerplay goal, this one at 8:42 of the middle frame, to put the lead back to three. The teams traded goals again in the third, ending the game in a Hurricanes win. Ruutu added insult to injury, recording four points in just that game.

The Devils evened the season series, winning 3-2 in overtime on February 8 at the Prudential Center. Skinner opened the scoring in the second period, converting on a powerplay at 9:22 for a 1-0 lead. It was a short-lived lead. Mattias Tedenby tied the game, 1-1, at 11:31 of the middle frame. Skinner put his team ahead, 2-1, on yet another powerplay goal, this at 8:37 of the third period. Another Devils rookie, Nick Palmieri, tied the game at two at 17:06 of the final frame. It would be a rookie playing hero in overtime for the win:

Johan Hedberg stopped 20 shots for the win. Cam Ward stopped 31 shots in the loss.

Just eight days later, the two teams squared off again at the Prudential Center. The Devils skated away with another 3-2 win. Ilya Kovalchuk broke a scoreless tie at 5:41 of the second period. They extended their lead quickly in the third period, with Brian Rolston and Patrik Elias scoring in the opening two minutes to push the lead to 3-0. Carolina mounted a comeback, with Samsonov ending Hedberg’s shutout at 8:17 of the final period. Ruutu scored at 19:55 to pull the teams within one. That’s as close as they would get. Hedberg stopped 25 shots in the win, and Ward stopped 19 in the loss.

The two teams met again three days later, with the Devils winning their third straight game, 4-1. Dainius Zubrus put New Jersey ahead, 1-0, at 1:14 of the first period. Henrik Tallinder extended the lead to 2-0 at 11:17 of the opening period. Rolston capped the first period outburst with a goal at 16:14 to push the lead to three. Patrick Dwyer broke the shutout at 6:49 of the third period, cutting the lead to 3-1. Zubrus would restore the three-goal lead, tallying his second goal at 11:43 of the final period.

Elias led all Devils skaters with seven points against the Canes - including the game-winning goal on February 16. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

This Season’s Matchup

Carolina lost one of their most recognizable faces during free agency. Erik Cole walked away from the franchise, signing a four-year, $18 million deal with the Montreal Canadiens. Last season was the first time he played all 82 games. The team also traded defenseman Joe Corvo to the Boston Bruins for a 2012 fourth round draft pick. Corvo found success last season, posting 40 points, the first time since the 2005-06 season.

Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford took a risk in his marquee offseason acquisition, Tomas Kaberle. He signed a three-year, $12.75 million contract after a mediocre second-half. After collecting 38 points in 58 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he recorded just nine points in 24 games for the Bruins. His playoff performance was a bit better, where he recorded 11 assists en route to a championship. In 49 games with the Bruins, he produced just 20 points. He’ll step in as the team’s best offensive defenseman.

Rutherford also made some smaller signings, inking Alexi Ponikarovsky, Anthony Stewart, Tim Brent and Brian Boucher. Stewart could be a diamond in the rough, as he produced career highs across the board last season.

The teams face off four times next season. They’ll kick off the season series October 10 at the Prudential Center and face off twice more before the end of the 2011. Their last meeting, on March 31, 2012, is a late season meeting that could help determine playoff position in the conference.

Stat Pack

The Hurricanes scored five powerplay goals in the four meetings last season…Skinner scored four goals – on just eight shots – to lead all Carolina scorers in the matchup…Ward’s performance against New Jersey this season submarined his career numbers against the Devils. He’s 6-9-2 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage…Elias led all Devils skaters with seven points against the Canes last season…Hedberg, who beat Carolina three times last season, continued to improve his career record. Entering this season, he’s 12-7-0 with 2 ties in 25 career games against the Hurricanes, with a 2.77 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

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