New Jersey Devils vs. Detroit Red Wings - 7:00 pm
Prudential Center - Newark, New Jersey
TV: MSG+ Radio: WFAN 660-AM, 101.9-FM
Goaltender: Cory Schneider
Some thoughts on tonight's game:
1. With Rangers heating up, tonight is a pretty big one. The only positive for the Devils over the last few games is a 1-0 OT win against Buffalo at home. And while you don't poo-poo wins, that's as an underwheliming of a triumph as a team can have. The Rangers have strung a few victories together and now that their goaltender has that contract weight off his shoulders, it's fair to say he's going to round into form soon after a tough start to his season. It's not a must-win, but it feels like it a bit with a trip to MSG tomorrow.
2. What will the crowd be like?. Obviously the lockout helped the Devils sell out the building a lot last year. So far this year, the crowd's have been pretty underwhelming. The Devils haven't cracked 14K this season outside of the home opener, Rangers/Penguin games and the two games in which there were a ton of free handouts by the organization (Carolina and Buffalo). The building sounds like the place did in 2010-11. Part of that is due to the lack of success and no star power on the team. I would even say part of it is the new goal song. Either way, there is no real home ice advantage this year for NJ.
3. Legit top three lines but no finish. The top three lines for the Devils are now pretty well-rounded. The problem is the team has very few finishers. The finishers they do have, don't shoot enough (Elias & Ryder). We've seen the likes of Brunner, Zajac and Henrique miss many point blank chances the last few games. The scoring chances are coming and that's definitely a great thing, but as we head towards January and February, there needs to be more talk about goals and less about how many great opportunities they didn't finish.
Prediction: Red Wings 3, Devils 2 OT
Though the Devils have outplayed their opponents the last few games, I think we see an evenly-matched contest tonight. The Red Wings have the best coach in the league (my opinion) and are always fundamentally sound. If you make mistakes in your own end against them, they wind up in the back of the net. This will be a steal-able game for the Devils and they'll do enough to get a point but Detroit is a level higher than NJ.