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Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils Limp Into Winnipeg

The New Jersey Devils limp into Winnipeg to face the Jets trying to avoid their first four game losing streak of the year. The Jets on the other hand have a golden opportunity to snap their own four-game losing streak against the Devils.

New Jersey (12-10-1) makes their first visit to Manitoba since the Jets departed in the late 90′s. The Devils enter the contest still licking their wounds from back-to-back losses in which they surrendered three goals in consecutive first periods.

The Devils have now lost four of six and appear headed towards another December collapse.

Zach Parise, determined to put on a good show in front of the hometown crowd in Minnesota gave his team an early 1-0 lead but the Devils couldn’t build of the momentum and limped to their third straight bad loss.

Martin Brodeur was yanked after allowing three goals on the Wild’s first four shots after giving up six goals a couple nights earlier in Colorado. Last night was the first time this season Marty was pulled for another reason other than an injury. The future Hall of Famer fell to 5-7-0 with a 3.31 goals-against average and although Brodeur is not at the top of his game he is not entirely to blame.

The Devils to a man are playing lazy uninspired hockey. Ilya Kovalchuk continues to make costly turnovers that end up behind his own goaltender. Head coach Pete Deboer said Kovy played a good game but the results says otherwise. Kovalchuk has been on the ice for eight of the last ten goals scored against New Jersey. Yikes!

The defense is playing about as bad a positional game as I’ve ever seen. They are sitting back on their heels and are too often caught flat-footed. They are allowing the opposition to dictate the pace, letting the play come to them. Then when they do get the puck their poor decision making when clearing the zone leaves me cringing and weeping sadly into my popcorn.

Johan “Moose” Hedberg makes the start in net for the Devils after entering last night in relief of Brodeur. Hedberg is 6-4-1 with a 2.39 GAA as a starter, including a shutout in his last start against the New York Islanders.

Hedberg has also been very good against the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise going 7-1-0 with a 2.23 GAA in his last eight starts against his former team.

Winnipeg (10-11-4) is 0-2-2 in its last four against the Devils, including a 3-2 overtime loss in Newark in early November. New Jersey needs to keep it that way if they want to keep pace in the Eastern Conference.

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