After a pair of games against Southeast Division opponents that left Jets fans scratching their heads, the team rebounded nicely by grinding out a different pair of games against Division rivals, and putting themselves back in the playoff picture. Wins against Tampa Bay and Florida on the road are not only good for a club now 8-5-1 on the road, but Divisional match-ups could end up being very important in a tightly grouped Division when playoff time comes.
The Jets and Devils meet for the third and final time this season, with the Jets having taken the first two contests by scores of 4-2 and 3-1, with the Jets looking to complete the sweep tonight in Newark. The Devils will again be withotu Martin Brodeur, who hurt his back in warmup against the Jets on February 24 and has not played since. the Devils have gone 1-5-1 since the future Hall of Famer went down, as back up Johan Hedberg has not been the answer for New Jersey.
While the Jets are coming off of a day of rest following back to back wins in the state of Florida, the Devils played last night in Raleigh against the Hurricanes, dropping a 6-3 decision, with Moose Hedberg allowing 5 goals before Jeff Frazee came in in relief. We may see him in net tonight, given the recent struggles of the former Manitoba Moose goalie.
Keys to the Game:
- Capitalize on weak goaltending: you would be hard pressed to say that Brodeur is not one of the top 3 goalies of all time, but his current backups are nowhere near that calibre. Hedberg has a save percentage of .875, which means he's actually worse than either Jets goalie.
- Keep your foot on the gas: While the Jets started the game strong against Florida, they let the Panthers claw back into it and force OT. If not for an exemplary effort by Dustin Byfuglien, the game would likely have gone to a shootout, where it is assumed the leaky glove hand of Ondrej Pavelec would have been exposed.
- Roster notes: Derek Meech will slot into the lineup in place of Paul Postma, giving him his first game action as a Winnipeg Jet. In other news, Spencer Machacek was dealt in a deal with the Blue Jackets organization that sees Tomas Kubalik go the other way.
- Depth scoring: This is actually a problem that plagues both teams, and keeps their goals per game numbers very low. Both teams have star players like Andrew ladd and lya kovalchuk lighting the lamp consistently, but those numbers fall off dramtically the farther down the depth chart you go. If the Devils want to beat the Jets, they will have to rely on more than just their top line.
- Better goaltending: The Devils allow the third fewest amount of shots per game, yet allow the 14th highest amount of goals, as the net has been hard to guard in the absence of Brodeur. If they want to win, they cannot afford to allow weak goals as they have been lately.
- Special teams: This is a game where neither power play unit or penalty kill unit is all that good, with both teams effectiveness registering in the lower half of the league in both categories. Special teams goals
Player to boo mercilessly:
Travis Zajac, because he's from some town where they don't have nice parks, and nobody speaks Russian.
New Jersey 2 - F