New Jersey Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena – Columbus, Ohio
TV: MSG Radio: WFAN 101.9 fm, 660 am
The Devils come in to another Metropolitan Division matchup, but this time they're feeling good about themselves after Saturday's 4-0 win over the New York Rangers. Columbus has been up and down so far as a new member of the Eastern Conference. They suffered three straight defeats last week before beating the Canucks 3-1 at home. Though it's early,
Some thought's on tonight's game:
1. Keep the confidence level high. There's no doubt that this team is feeling much better about themselves after their first win of the season, but this game is pivotal as a follow up to the win over the Rangers. If the Devils grab and early lead, their new-found confidence can carry them a long way. If they surrender an early goal or two, they're almost right back where they started. A big win tonight would help propel this team into two tough contests with the Canucks and Bruins later in the week.
2. Hello, old friend. Marian Gaborik is a division rival, once again. He's been off to a tremendous start, with eight points in seven games. Though the Devils have done a nice job at neutralizing Gaborik in the past, they'll have to make sure that they keep him from finding any shooting space or an odd-man rush.
3. Can Schneider get on a roll? Cory Schneider was excellent against the Rangers after a relatively strong performance against the Jets. Another good start could go a long way towards getting him into a nice groove. Can Schneider turn in another exemplary performance tonight and make Pete DeBoer stick with him for the game on Thusday against his former team?
4. Welcome back Damien. Damien Brunner returns to the lineup tonight after a one-game absence. He brings speed and creativity to the lineup. He started out hot, can he get going again after missing the last game? With Patrik Elias still sidelined with an illness, there will be more pressure on the Swiss winger to help carry some of the load, especially on the power play.
Prediction: Devils 3, Blue Jackets 1
I believe that we'll see a loser, more composed team tonight. No longer is the zero in the win column hanging over them. They finally got rewarded with a win after falling short. Now that the first one is out of the way, they'll be able to play their game without pressing for that W.
Look for Schneider to shut the door and the Devils to score just enough to squeak out a tough, hard-fought victory.