New Jersey Devils vs. Columbus Blue Jackets - 7:00 pm
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
TV: MSG+ Radio: WFAN 660-AM
Goaltender: Martin Brodeur
1. The return of Clowe and Loktionov. After missing 32 games, Ryane Clowe is back in the lineup for New Jersey. A commendable job by Pete DeBoer with this situation as well, he's inserted Clowe on the 4th line, instead of disrupting some of the chemistry we've seen the top three lines create over the last few weeks. Letting Clowe work his way back against NHL competition, but in short doses, is the way to go. He'll have some speed with him tonight with Andrei Loktionov back. Mix Clowe's grit with Loktionov's speed and Stephen Gionta's heart, and maybe this 4th line can be something of note.
2. Special Teams. The Devils have the 4th worst power play in the league when they are at The Rock. The Jackets have the 5th worst penalty kill when they are away from Columbus. Considering both squads have proved to me middle-of-the-road teams thus far, this could play a big role.
3. Curtis McElhinney. The Columbus goaltender has not been great his last few games. He has allowed three or more in three of his last four contests. In fact, he gave up four scores against this same Devils team back on December 10. In those three games where he gave up at least three goals, he saw 30 or more shots thrown his way. Pepper him early and often and make him crack.
Prediction - Devils 5 Blue Jackets 2
After suffering some really tough defeats in Columbus, especially the most recent one, I see the Devils just beating the tar out of this Blue Jackets team. The Devils have never lost to the Blue Jackets at home. There's no way they are losing to this team for a third straight time.
Enjoy the game, everyone.