Last night against the Rangers, the Devils showed off their offensive flair. Or rather the Rangers didn’t play good defense all night (not that the Devils were good either). The Devils for the most part of the game sustained a strong forecheck which allowed them to keep possession in the Ranger’s end. Although the Rangers were pretty deflated after Lundqvist was pulled unfairly. None of the goals against were soft and Lundqvist cannot possibly be expected to make up for the bonehead plays the Rangers defense sees so fit to make.
All night the Devils third line looked good. And by the third line I mean Niedermayer and Clarkson because Rolston, even though he had a goal and an assist, managed to be invisible. He has size but refuses to check, he’s got a rocket shot but can’t hit the net, and he makes terrible passing decisions. What was great about the third line was the chemistry between Clarkson and Niedermayer. They worked the puck along the boards to each other wonderfully and while being defensively sound they put on a lot of offensive pressure.
ZZZ (Parise – Zajac – Zubrus) had some renewed energy and were great. Zubrus seemed to thrive on the wing and made a great blind pass to Zajac into the offensive zone to where he scored against Auld with what is becoming his patented slapper. Lemaire is having problems with the 2nd line which should seem like a no brainer. You let Kovalchuk and Elias out there and they should just score, right? Well that isn’t the case. Elias only logged 16:08 of ice time last night and played at center. Elias’s lack of defensive prowess was easy to see and was the reason for a goal against. A play making center makes sense for Kovalchuk but Elias isn’t that.
For the match up with Pittsburgh: Fraser only logged 5:56 of ice time and was effectively benched after a pass into the slot which resulted in an easy put in for Prust. Salmela will probably be back in the lineup. Pittsburgh has been hot and this will be a good test for the Devils to play good defense and then letting the offense roll. In four previous games with the Pens this year the Devils have won all four meetings and have only allowed two goals against. At this point in the season the Devils need to win one of the last two meetings so hold Pittsburgh close if they want to win the division.
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Written by Ben Petrino