Gameday: Devils at Jets (2/28/13)

Ondrej Pavelec, Adam Henrique, Ron Hainsey

Adam Henrique and the Devils look to repay for the Jets after Winnipeg’s win in New Jersey on Sunday.

Who:  New Jersey Devils at Winnipeg Jets
When: 8:00 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Media: TV – MSG+2 (Channel listings); RadioWFAN (660 AM or 101.9 FM)
Twitter: @cgriffin415 | @SNYDevils

Stats & Notes (via Devils PR)

  • Despite Sunday’s loss, the Devils have won 7 of their last 12 games overall (7-4-1) and are 16-5-4 in their last 25 regular season contests dating back to 2011-12.
  • Combined with Saturday’s loss at Washington, the Devils lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time since March 17-19, 2012.
  • Winnipeg native Travis Zajac will play in his hometown for the first time tonight. He missed both games last season recovering from a left Achilles tendon injury. He scored his fourth goal of the year in Sunday’s game vs. the Jets.
  • Alexei Ponikarovsky will play his first game in Winnipeg against his former teammates. He was re-acquired by New Jersey from Winnipeg in a trade on February 13. Ponikarovsky has points in back-to-back games (2a).
  • Bryce Salvador is a native of Brandon, Manitoba and will play in his home province for the first time as captain of the Devils.
  • Keith Kinkaid, who was re-called from Albany on Tuesday, will be the backup goaltender. He served as Johan Hedberg’s backup for six games last season (Oct. 15-29).
  • Ilya Kovalchuk has 6g-2a-8pts in 9 games vs. Winnipeg/Atlanta since being traded from the Thrashers to the Devils on February 4, 2010.
  • Steve Bernier scored his fifth goal of the year Sunday vs. Winnipeg, after scoring just one goal in 32 games with New Jersey last season.
  • Andrei Loktionov has points in a career-high three straight games (1g-2a-3pts).

Expected Lineups

Forwards                                                              Defense                                                      Goalie
Henrique-Loktionov-Kovalchuk                           Salvador-Zidlicky                                              Hedberg
Elias-Zajac-Clarkson                                        Greene-Larsson
Ponikarovsky-Gionta-Bernier                              Tallinder-Fayne
Matteau-Sestito-Butler

Inactives: Harrold, Volchenkov, Barch

Trying something new: Pete DeBoer is trying all sorts of crazy things to get the Devils out of their offensive slump. The latest includes completely redoing the Devils’ top forward line, with Henrique moving to the wing and Loktionov jumping up to top-line center. But if you ask me, it’s the second and third lines that give the Devils their best chance to get back on track. Those two units are the best equipped to re-establish the hard-forechecking style that DeBoer prefers and once that style is back in the Devils’ game, the goals (and wins) will come. That’s just how this team is wired — they need to put pressure on other team’s defensive corps and make sure the pace of the game is the slower, more deliberate pace they excel playing.

Watch those defensemen: Speaking of pace — if the game does devolve into the up-and-down, open-ice style of hockey that Sunday became, the Devils better be on the lookout for pinching Winnipeg defensemen. It led directly to at least one goal in Sunday’s loss to the Jets and there were a few other times when the Devils found themselves in serious trouble in their own end because of Winnipeg’s offensive-minded blueliners. The key here? The other check — backchecking. Devils forwards can’t allow themselves to get trapped deep in the offensive end and will have to be wary of where guys like Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian are at all times.

Heddy play: The Devils are struggling to score goals and their starting goalie is on IR. No pressure, Johan. No matter how many goals New Jersey scores tonight, Hedberg will have to be much better than he was Sunday. At least one, if not two, of the goals he allowed should have been saved. Plus, no matter how good the Devils’ forecheck is, the Jets will come at Hedberg in waves at some point during tonight’s game. Moose will have to probably make a few saves in harried, rushed conditions (don’t all goalies?) and keep the Devils from possibly falling behind early.