Your New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins once again find each other squaring-off to start an NHL season. These two teams have combined for 6 of the last 8 Atlantic Division Championships, and have represented the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals four times in the past 10 NHL seasons. The Devils will look to start the 2013-14 season off right after missing the playoffs last year, while the Penguins will look for some consistency from their goaltenders and return to the Stanley Cup Finals.
With the 2013-14 season looming closer, we’ll be taking a look at the new and old Division match-ups in the new formed Metropolitan Division in this weekly blog. The second team we look at is another one of the three new teams to the Division, and one that the Devils have had some success against in the past few years: the Washington Capitals.
Now that the “Free Agent Frenzy” has died down, let’s take a look at some of the free agent signings the Devils made to improve the squad.
Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus – If there was one player the Devils could not afford to lose, it was Elias. The departure of the franchise leader in pretty much every offensive category would have dealt a blow so hard that the Devils would have been looking at a rebuilding stage faster than they wanted. Luckily Elias re-signed for 3 more years that will take him to the end of his career and he will be able to retire as a Devil. Elias has been the heartbeat of this team the past few seasons. I, for one, feel he should be captain, but he has declined that request due to past issues. Not only is he the heart and soul to this team offensively, he can play in any situation. Power play, penalty kill, center, on the wing, anything at all. So the Devils re-signed their most important free agent this season. In Dainius Zubrus the Devils are getting back their bulldozer. Zubrus may not have the point total you want to see but he’s also the type of player where if you watch him every game, you know what he brings to the table and it’s a lot. Very happy Zubie is back in the fold as well.
Your New Jersey Devils (19-18-10) will take the ice for the final time this season on Saturday afternoon, as they take on their cross-town rivals, the New York Rangers (25-18-4) for the fourth time this season. The Devils are 1-2-0 against the Rangers this season, taking the first meeting by a score of 3-1, then losing the next two 3-2 and 4-1. The Rangers will look to move as high as 6th in the Eastern Conference standings, depending on the results of the last two games for the Ottawa Senators.
Three Stars of the Game:
3rd Star: Alex Killorn (1 goal, 1 assist)
2nd Star: Andy Greene (1 goal, 1 assist)
1st Star: Steven Stamkos (2 goals, 1 assist)
Stephen Gionta, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Bryce Salvador all made their returns from injury, but it wasn’t enough as the Devils (15-11-8) dropped another tough one in the shootout Friday night to the Tampa Bay Lightning (15-18-1). The offense wasn’t the problem this time, it was the defensive play. The Devils scored in almost every way they could, scoring goals at even strength, on the power play, shorthanded, and even on a penalty shot, but couldn’t put one past Mathieu Garon during the shootout. The Devils are now 2 – 6 this year in the shootout, a huge drop-off from their shootout success last year.
New Jersey Devils (13-11-6) @ Carolina Hurricanes (15-12-2)
TV: NHLN-US, MSG PLUS 2
RADIO: WFAN 660 AM & 101.9 FM
GAME TIME: 7:00 PM
The Devils are heading down to Carolina for their third and last match up with the Hurricanes. Carolina has two wins over New Jersey and we’re all hoping the Devils don’t get swept up tonight. To add fuel to the fire, the Devils fell out of the top eight while losing their third in the a row to the Rangers on Tuesday and the Hurricanes are trying to hold onto their playoff spot after their fourth straight loss.