Three games on tap this week following Saturday night's comeback win in Boston. The Devils finally get two home games in a row, so they'll be looking to extend their home point streak and begin to climb back towards .500 on the season
Tuesday, October 29th - vs. Tampa Bay Lighting
The Bolts come in as the first place team Atlantic Division. Yes, it's a fact. Tampa Bay has gotten off to an excellent start behind an offense that has simply dominated at times.
Steven Stamkos has 15 points, (7g, 8a) which points to the fact that he's willing to dish the puck just as much as he's willing to rip it. Martin St. Louis has been on a torrid pace as well, with 13 points (6g, 7a). The fact is, Tampa Bay has gotten off to such a great start because they're getting production throughout their lineup.
The Lightning have 10 players on their roster with at least five points, an impressive feat.
So how you defend the Bolts, or at the very least, slow them down? It's certainly not easy. The fact is, the Devils have to limit any sort of odd-man rushes, something that had plagued this team early on. The Devils D-corps has been much better of late, but they'll face a very tough task on Tuesday night.
In goal, Ben Bishop is proving that he was worth the trade that sent Cory Conacher to the Ottawa Senators. He's sporting a 2.47 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. His height makes him tough to beat and with the kind of offense he's had in front of him, as long as he's able to keep a team to 2-3 goals, chances are he's going to come out ahead. Bishop is 7-1 on the season.
For the Devils, they'll certainly need to score a few goals if they expect to come out with a win. Holding the Bolts under two goals seems to be an unachievable task these days, so it'll be up to the offense to pull their weight. The Devils have been a good power play team so far, so another good night with the man-advantage could go a long way.
This Tampa Bay team is playing excellent hockey right now and it will take an excellent effort by New Jersey if they expect to win.
Saturday, November 2nd - vs. Philadelphia Flyers
An old rival comes to town as the two teams meet for the first time as Metropolitan Division rivals.
The Flyers come in struggling, but they won their last two games and seem to be turning things around. Even still, their 18 goals for is second to last in the league.
Philadelphia is still finding it's way under new coach Craig Berube, after Peter Laviolette was fired just three games into the season, but with two strong wins over the Rangers and Islanders, the orange and black might be close to the light at the end of the tunnel after a dismal 1-7 start to the season.
Vincent Lecavalier has been a nice addition so far, as his six points (4g, 2a) have been crucial. Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek have combined for just two goals so far.
The bright spot for Philly has been the play of Steve Mason. His 2.15 goals against and .930 save percentage are excellent, but the scoring just hasn't been there. If the Flyers are able to give him some scoring, he's looking like he could be a very solid addition. Considering the struggles of Ray Emery so far, Mason is going to be the guy.
For the Devils, it's simple. They need to beat this team now, or they'll have to contend with them later. It's still early enough for the Flyers to get right back into contention, so this game might have some early season implications, especially if both teams come in with winning streaks.
The good thing for New Jersey is that the Flyers take on the Washington Capitals the night before.
The gameplan against Philly should always be to win the battles in the corners. Though the Flyers don't have a lot of flashy offense to speak of, they are a team that will grind in the corners and turn you over and create goals. With the Flyers penchant for taking penalties, the power play will be counted on. The orange and black have done well against the Devils with the man-advantage in the past, as Wayne Simmonds has been a thorn in the Devils side since he was traded to Philly.
Make no mistake, this is a big game for both of these teams as they look to climb out of the Metropolitan Division cellar.
Sunday, November 3rd - at Minnesota Wild
Hello again, old friend.
The Devils will skate against Zach Parise since the former Devil took his services to Minnesota in 2012-2013.
The boys from the "State of Hockey" have gotten off to a good start so far, out west.
Leading the way with nine points (6g, 3a) is none other than Mr. Parise. Jason Pominville also has six goals for Minnesota.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of this NHL season so far is the incredible play of Wild goalie Josh Harding. His numbers? Try a 1.00 goals against and a .953 save percentage. He's been that good.
If there's a weak spot to the Wild, it's that right now, they're somewhat of a one line team. Granted, the Parise, Pominville and Mikko Koivu has been sensational.
You have to expect that Zach would love to beat his old team, so expect a good effort from Minnesota. The Devils would definitely like to beat Parise at his new home as well.
Slowing down Minnesota will involve shutting down their power play, which comes into the week as the fifth ranked unit in the league. Matt Cooke has been a surprising addition to this team so far, as he's tallied eight points (3g, 5a). Throw in an always productive Ryan Suter and you begin to see where their strengths lie.
For the Wild, 2013-2014 is a big year. After just barely qualifying for the playoffs last season, head coach Mike Yeo has been feeling the pressure. This is a team that expects to not only make the playoffs, but win there a well.
For the Devils, it's simple. They can't dig themselves into the kind of hole that they did against Boston, because multiple-goal road comebacks are usually few and far between.