Who: New Jersey Devils at New York Islanders
When: 7:00 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
Media: TV – MSGPlus 2; Radio – WFAN (660AM or 101.9 FM)
Twitter: @cgriffin415 | @SNYDevils
Stats & Notes
- New Jersey is 17-7-5 all-time in season-openers, including 12-12-3 on the road.
- The Devils are 0-2-1 in the previous three openers, their last win being a 2-1 victory over the Islanders at Prudential Center on 10/10/08.
- This is the fourth time the teams will open against one another, with the Devils winning the previous 3 contests, all in New Jersey.
- The Devils are beginning the season on the road for the first time since their nine-game road trip at the start of the 2007-08 campaign.
- Martin Brodeur is expected to extend his own NHL record by starting his 18th consecutive opener with the same team.
Forwards Defense Goalie
Zubrus-Zajac-Kovalchuk Salvador-Zidlicky Brodeur
Inactives: Harrold, Barch, Larsson
Well ladies and gentlemen, hockey is finally back. It’s been a very long time since the Devils’ season ended in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, but the Devils can finally move on from that loss and look ahead the rapid-fire, 48-game season that awaits. Here’s a few things I’ll be looking at and looking for in tonight’s game:
Bye, Bye Parise: In case you hadn’t heard, a much richer version of Zach Parise has set up residence in Minnesota and he won’t be easy to replace. While Bryce Salvador takes the captain’s “C,” Travis Zajac moves up to the top line and will be counted on to replace a lot of Parise’s production — and his chemistry with Ilya Kovalchuk. Oh, and let’s not forget the eight-year contract extension Zajac inked three days ago. No pressure, Zach.
Oh Captain, My Captain: It’s Salvador’s first game with the “C” on his sweater and although I don’t expect it to change his game, it still bears watching. If the Devils get down early or have a bad period, I’ll be interested to see how the team responds coming out of the locker room. While it won’t change my opinion of the Salvador choice (which I fully support and think made a lot of sense), it’ll be up to him to keep them on an even keel.
Back to Business: Yes, some players will be playing their first competitive hockey in a very long time, but guys like Kovalchuk will be getting right back to hockey after what amounted to a week off for training camp. Kovy, who had a dreadful start to last season, and the AHL kids (Jacob Josefson, Mattias Tedenby) should have a leg up on the guys that took time off from hockey during the lockout. Look for them, Kovy in particular, to have an extra jump in their step as the game goes along since they’re already in game shape.
Matteau, Matteau, Matteau: The 18-year-old kid whose father is responsible for one of the most painful and heartbreaking moments in Devils history will play his first NHL game in a red and black sweater tonight. On top of that, he’ll be doing it seven months after being drafted 29th overall in last June’s draft. In this shortened season, Matteau has five games to prove he belongs. After that, the Devils either have to ship him back to his juniors club or keep him in the NHL for the entire season and burn a year of his entry-level contract. He was the first one on the ice this morning and I fully expect he’s going to come out with his pants on fire. It’ll be important that he calms down after his first shift and doesn’t try to do too much.
Gird Your Groin (And Ears): Because you’re going to hear about how many groin/hamstring/quad injuries players are going to suffer this year roughly 97 times tonight. Not that they’re wrong, but I’ll guarantee we’re going to get sick of hearing it.