Gameday: Jets at Devils (2/24/13)

Jets-Devils

The Jets visit New Jersey as the Devils return home after a 5-1 loss in D.C.

Who:  Winnipeg Jets at New Jersey Devils
When: 5:00 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Media: TV – MSG+ (Channel listings); RadioBloomberg (1130 AM)
Twitter: @cgriffin415 | @SNYDevils

Stats & Notes (via Devils PR)

  • New Jersey has won the last five meetings between at home vs. Winnipeg/Atlanta (last loss, 4-2, October 16, 2009).
  • The Devils have won 7 of their last 11 games overall (7-3-1) and are 16-4-4 in their last 24 regular season contests dating back to 2011-12.
  • New Jersey hasn’t lost consecutive games in regulation since March 17-19, 2012.
  • Tonight’s game closes the team’s fourth of ten sets of back-to-back games. The Devils are 2-2-0 in first games and 2-1-0 in second games when playing on consecutive dates.
  • Tonight’s game also opens a home-and-home set vs. the Jets (Thursday at MTS Centre, 8:00 PM).
  • Ilya Kovalchuk scored the Devils’ lone goal yesterday and has points in seven of his last eight games (5g-7a-12pts).
  • Kovalchuk has 6g-2a-8pts in 8 games vs. Winnipeg/Atlanta since being traded from the Thrashers to the Devils on February 4, 2010.
  • Andrei Loktionov has points in back-to-back games 1g-1a-2pts.

Expected Lineups

Forwards                                                              Defense                                                      Goalie
Ponikarovsky-Zajac-Kovalchuk                           Salvador-Zidlicky                                              Brodeur
Elias-Henrique-Clarkson                                    Greene-Larsson
Gionta-Josefson-Bernier                                        Volchenkov-Fayne
Barch-Loktionov-Butler

Inactives: Harrold, Tallinder, Matteau

New old face: Jacob Josefson is back and back in the lineup as he’ll replace Stefan Matteau, who is “banged up,” according to the Devils. Interestingly, Josefson will center that third line with Stephen Gionta sliding to left wing. I like the idea of Josefson on this line. I think his game is very well suited to what Pete DeBoer asks of this group. The question is whether he can finish enough to be more than just a defensive center. That’s why he was sent down in the first place — he couldn’t finish. That’ll be a big issue for him this time around and he has a limited amount of time to prove he belongs here. Andrei Loktionov has been impressive in limited time, meaning Josefson has to prove he deserves a spot even when Carter and Dainius Zubrus returns. Time to show some finish.

Timing is everything: The Devils are just 2-3-1 since sweeping that back-to-back, home-and-home series with the Penguins. Their penalty kill and power play have struggled and they’ve had elongated stretches where the forecheck disappeared. However, sometimes all it takes for a slumping team to get out of the doldrums is a visit from the basement and thankfully, the Devils’ next three games are the Jets, the Jets and the Sabres. The Devils have to make sure they start this three-game stretch strong and get back to enforcing their style of hockey on the opponent.

Tired legs: Three games in four nights and tonight is the second half of a back-to-back set. That’s the situation the Devils are in right now. The question is whether they’ll play like it. The good news is so far they’ve shown an ability to overcome the compact schedule while also showing resiliency and an ability to rebound after a loss. What do I mean? Well, here’s a stat to emphasize the point. The Devils are 2-0 this season in the second half of back-to-backs, each of which has come after a loss in the first game. I’ll be watching early to see if the Devils have their legs under them.