Tonight the New Jersey Devils (18-14-1) have a chance to move forward from a tough loss and prove they are in the playoff race for the long haul when Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (17-4-1) invade the Prudential Center.
The Devils are in a good place as a team or so head coach Pete Deboer believes. Despite losing 4-1 to the hated New York Rangers in their last game, Deboer believes it was the teams best effort of the year.
Regardless of how Deboer feels the loss still dropped the Devils farther back in the Eastern Conference standings. But a win tonight would help pad New Jersey’s playoff cushion.
The Capitals are one of the teams trying to catch New Jersey. Washington trails the Devils by two points in the standings but have played one less game. A win tonight will pull them even in points. Just like Tuesday night expect this game to have a playoff like atmosphere.
New Jersey should get an offensive boost with the return of leading scorer Patrik Elias who sat last game with the flu. Prior to Tuesday’s loss New Jersey had been clicking offensively scoring 18 goals in the previous four games. Elias had six points (4g 2a) during that span.
Elias assisted on one of two second-period goals back in November to help propel New Jersey to a 3-2 comeback shootout win in Washington to split a home-and-home series. It was Washington goalie Michal Neuvirth’s first loss against the Devils in his career. The 23 year-old gets the nod again tonight between the pipes.
Washington will have to contend with Martin Brodeur whom they’ve had tremendous success against recently. Brodeur has lost his last five starts against the Caps with an inflated 4.32 GAA.
The Devils legend has been struggling for most of the season especially at home. Brodeur is 0-3 in his last four starts at the “Rock.” If Marty plays well and picks up the win it may be the lift he needs to turn his year around.
follow me on twitter! @westcoastdevfan