Saturday, December 31, 2011

Game #38 - at New Jersey Devils

2011-12 Game 38

Pittsburgh Penguins (21-12-4, 46 points) at New Jersey Devils (20-15-1, 41 points)

You don't often get to break out a 1995-96 hockey card!  This is a Sykora rookie card from his original go-round with the Devils.  He's having a good year with 21 points in 36 games (10 + 11).

Why does it matter?

You can make the argument that the Atlantic Division is the toughest in hockey.  The Devils are in fourth place, yet are in sixth place in the entire conference.  This is a key match-up for the Pens, especially if they're going to struggle to win against the Flyers and Rangers.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - The Pens ran into a better team on Thursday night against Philly.  The struggles continue against the power teams.
  • Devils - They've won eight of eleven, but just two of their past four.
Questions to be answered
  • Who are these guys?  These Devils are not doing a good job at controlling the shots against them, and they're putting the puck in the net with more frequency, especially lately.  They have SEVEN forwards with 10 goals or more.
  • Can the Pens get themselves amped up enough if Brodeur stones them as he has recently?
  • Will the Pens be able to take advantage of the fact that New Jersey has somehow allowed ELEVEN short-handed goals this season?  That's an amazing number, and it probably has something to do with Kovalchuk, if I had to guess.
Keys to the game
  • Get traffic in front of Brodeur.  The Devils are allowing shots, but Brodeur is stopping them (I'm assuming that we'll see Martin and not Johan Hedberg).
  • Get Geno going.  He has no points in his last five games against the Devils.
  • Play solid road-style hockey at even-strength.  This is where the Devils have been making hay during their recent run of strong hockey.  Shut them down and you'll have a good chance.

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