WOW .... what a different team that was. The Blues were flying across the ice right from the opening faceoff, as if someone had shoved a bottle rocket up their ass. Rather than the grinding heavy game we're known for, the Blues looked like they were born to run a track meet. THAT is exactly the kind of fast start that we need to see these guys playing. I can't say that I called it, exactly, but it sure seemed that a game against Detroit would be a showcase for the Blues shaking off their funk. That could be what we're seeing here - a rejuvenated sense of purpose and a re-commitment to the game plan. The proof is this: can they do it again tonight? They'll need to prove it all night with another 60-minute game. I also hope we can see another young one step up like Magnus Paajarvi did.
The New Jersey Devils are not far off from the Red Wings, standings-wise. The Devils are 20-19-11 on the season, good enough for 6th place in the MEHtropolitan division. They've only won 4 of the their last 10 games, and have lost 2 straight going into tonight's contest.
Looking at their roster on Extra Skater, it seems that they are a decent possession team. With the exception of Mattias Tedenby at 47.6% , all of the NJ skaters are 49% or above in 5v5 Corsi. That basically means that, regardless of who's on the ice at the moment, the Devils are taking close to the same amount of shot attempts as their opponent. Those shot attempts are just not going in, though. The Devils have the 2nd-fewest goals scored in the Eastern Conference, only putting 115 pucks behind the opponent's goalie. This is also reflected in the special teams - the Devils have the 2nd-worst Home Power Play percentage, only converting on 11.1% of their opportunities. Luckily for them, they also have the 2nd-BEST Penalty Kill in the league - overall at 86.3% and again at home at an amazing 91.5% Kill Rate. Lastly, and stop me if you've heard this before, players and fans are frustrated with a bad run of slow starts for the Devils, prompting Jaromir Jagr to say "Maybe we're just not good enough".
The New Jersey offense is led by Jagr for overall points, his 15 goals and 24 assists adding up to 39 so far for the year. Next is the goals leader Michael Ryder with 16g, 10a for 26 points. Rounding out the top 5 is Patrik Elias (7g, 18a), Marek Zidlicky (8g, 17a) and Andy Greene (7g, 17a). In the net, they are platooning the incumbent starter Martin Brodeur (13-10-4, 2.36 GAA / .905 Sv%) with the heir apparent Cory Schneider (7-9-7 , 1.91 GAA / .924 Sv%). The old man in net still isn't ready to let go of his glory days. However, according to those in the know, we'll be seeing Cory Schneider tonight. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing our old friend CamTits, as Cam Janssen was put on waivers Monday, in anticipation of being sent down to the AHL affiliate in Albany.
Final Verse: Another early one, kids... even moreso than yesterday. The opening faceoff is at 6:00 PM St Louis time. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. The GDT should drop just before the puck does. Until then, this is your pregame warmup. Gather here, trade Jimmy Howard poop jokes, hang Judge Houston in effigy one more time, and enjoy some postgame video featuring the Pride Of Eureka. This is after he scored his 2nd goal (!) of the season.