Pregame Primer: Game Thirty-Eight – Devils at Blackhawks

New Jersey Devils at Chicago Blackhawks – 8:00 pm

United Center, Chicago, Illinois

TV: MSG+ 2  Radio: WCBS 880-AM

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Dainius Zubrus – Travis Zajac – Jaromir Jagr
Mattias Tedenby – Patrik Elias – Steve Bernier
Reid Boucher – Adam Henrique – Michael Ryder
Jacob Josefson – Stephen Gionta – Cam Janssen

Andy Greene – Mark Fayne
Eric Gelinas – Marek Zidlicky 
Anton Volchenkov – Jon Merrill

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

Some thoughts on tonight’s game:  

1. The element of surprise?  These two teams haven’t squared off since late March of 2012 and the Blackhawks marek-zidlicky-mulhollandjpg-7cc91b25ddd83cd3haven’t beaten the Devils since April 2, 2010.  Unfortunately for the Devils, that Hawks are 9-1-2 against the East this season.  However, maybe that number begins to even out over the course of the year?

2. Huge advantage if the Devils are on the PP.  As unbelievable as the Blackhawks are this season, they do have one big flaw; their penalty kill at the United Center.  They are dead last in the league at 72.7 percent.  This is not the case of a small sample size; their road PK is under 78 percent.  For whatever reason, the Devils power play on the road is miles better than it is at home.  Away from the Pru, they are connecting at a 23.4 percent rate, good enough for 4th in the league.  Maybe they’re more focused, there’s less pressure, or something else, but whatever it is, that’s one major area where the Devils have a leg up on the Hawks.

3. Need success from bottom two lines.  The Top-6 of the Hawks is ridiculous.  You know the names…Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Shaw, Saad.  Now, the Devils top two lines will have their share of scoring chances but it’s hard to imagine them dictating the pace of play when those quality players are on the ice.  Therefore, the Adam Henrique line and the Stephen Gionta line need to outplay their opposition on a high majority of their shifts.  If they can produce some chances and maybe even some goals, that would go a long way in getting the the Devils a victory.

Prediction – Blackhawks 4 Devils 2

I do think the Devils will be up for this game and will stick with them.  I see it as a pretty closely played contest with Chicago potting an empty netter at the end, in turn, making the game look a little bit more one-sided.  If the Devils got any amount of points tonight, I think that would be considered a good evening.

Enjoy the game, everyone.

On This Date: Brodeur Makes History with 552nd Win

Four years ago today, Martin Brodeur etched a place in NHL history with his 552nd win.

Four years ago today, Martin Brodeur etched a place in NHL history with his 552nd win.

Three Stanley Cups, four Vezina Trophies, five Jennings Trophies, plus a slew of awards and accomplishments have helped cement Martin Brodeur as one of the NHL’s all-time greatest goaltenders.

But four years ago today, Brodeur staked a claim to No. 1.

On St. Patrick’s Day 2009, Brodeur claimed his 552nd career victory– a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a soldout crowd at Prudential Center.

Brodeur stopped 30 of 32 that night as he surpassed Patrick Roy for the most wins of any NHL goaltender of all time.

Though it was Brodeur’s night, Patrik Elias also surpassed a milestone on St. Patrick’s Day 2009. Elias’ assist on Brian Gionta’s

Patrik Elias celebrated St. Patrick's Day in style in 2009.

Patrik Elias celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in style in 2009.

goal was his 702nd point, placing him first all time on the Devils scoring list.

When Elias was announced as the game’s No. 2 star, he skated onto the ice wearing a green fedora to celebrate “(his) day.”

Elias donned the fedora on St. Patrick’s Day 2010 as well, when he was the No. 1 star in the Devils’ 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. But 2009 started the trend.

There was a palpable buzz surrounding The Rock before the game. A “Guys Night Out” promotion– plus a perfect day and the possibility of history– all conspired for a rare midweek sellout against an interconference foe.

Brodeur’s record breaking was the veritable Christening of Prudential Center. The Rock was only 16-months old, and all the great Devils moments– including New Jersey’s three Cups– were celebrated at the Brendan Byrne-Continental Airlines Arena. The Rock was still looking for its signature Devils moment.

But after the Devils struck twice in the first seven minutes, the party was on. New Jersey never trailed, though Dustin Byfuglien’s goal at 17:57 of the third did make things interesting.

Brodeur’s famous save on Troy Brouwer sealed No. 552. His teammates mobbed him, and a post-game celebration ensued. Brodeur cut down the net, and took a lap as the arena chanted “Marty’s Better!”

It was the signature moment in an otherwise odd year for Brodeur and the Devils. When Marty went down Nov. 1, 2008, it appeared the season– and Brodeur’s chase for Roy’s record– would be lost. But Scott Clemmensen spearheaded New Jersey’s 2009 playoff push– winning 25 of 39 games started while Brodeur was sidelined with an elbow injury.

When Brodeur returned on Feb. 26 against the Colorado Avalanche, he was just eight wins from breaking Roy’s record. Brodeur won seven of his first eight starts. His 551st win, a 4-1 win in Montreal on Hockey Night in Canada, tied Roy’s record and set the stage for history on a Tuesday night in Newark.

The Devils finished the 2008-09 season with a 51-27-4 record, and their 106 points earned them the Atlantic Division championship and Eastern Conference No. 3 seed.

Brodeur authored perhaps his best performance in game five of New Jersey’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal against Carolina, when he stopped all 44 shots he faced in the Devils’ 1-0 win at Prudential Center.

Unfortunately, that was New Jersey’s final win of that season. You might remember the two goals Brodeur surrendered late in game seven that boosted Carolina to the 4-3 series win.

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins claimed the Stanley Cup that year, beating the Detroit Red Wings in seven games.

Around the Links: Shootout Mavens

  • Full color and breakdown of New Jersey’s second-straight home win, a 3-2 shootout victory over Winnipeg. (NorthJersey.com) (NJ.com) (NHL.com) (AP).
  • Anton Volchenkov had an assist and was a plus-1 in 16:39 Sunday night, which is especially remarkable considering he injured his foot in the third period. (NJ.com)
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets won their sixth straight last night in a shootout in Detroit… (NHL.com)
  • …and the Chicago Blackhawks lost their second straight in regulation against Edmonton (NHL.com)

Around the Links: Standing pat

  • We talked trades yesterday, but Lou Lamoriello believes in the bunch he has, according to Tom Gulitti (Fire & Ice).
  • Keith Kinkaid didn’t get to play in his first game on the Devils bench. But according to Rich Chere, Jeff Frazee is hoping for a different outcome. (NJ.com)
  • Prudential Center will host the New Jersey high school championships this weekend. Here’s more info about that via the Devils. (NHL.com)
  • The Blackhawks rallied from 2-1 down after two to win their 11th straight game and improve to 21-0-3 through 24 games. Chicago’s not lost in regulation in its last 30 and is just five wins– or overtime losses– from the all-time mark set by the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers.

Around the Links: Thunder Struck

Watch: Travis Zajac Postgame

Travis Zajac spoke to the media after the Devils 2-1 shootout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. Zajac scored the shootout game winning goal. He went 9 for 16 on faceoffs tonight.

Final: Devils 2 Blackhawks 1

Scoring Summary:
First Period- Sykora (18)
Second Period- None
Third Period- Seabrook (8)
Devils win shootout 2-1

Next Game: 3/29 vs Tampa Bay Lightning 7:00 pm.

Travis Zajac Postgame:
“It’s a big two points. We’re still fighting for position. We didn’t play our best game, but we found a way to win. That’s what you have to do at this time of year.”

Pete DeBoer Postgame:
“I liked our first period and then after that I thought they stretched us out and got us kind of caught in between our forecheck and defending. I thought we were chasing the rest of the game.”

Team Stats:
Devils outdrew the Blackhawks 31-26
Blackhawks outshot the Devils 38-22
Devils went 1 for 3 on the power play.
Devils outhit the Blackhawks 13-8

Player Stats: