NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 8: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils lines up a shot on goal during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center on October 8, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Last week, the New Jersey Devils spent the entire week on the road, where they won just once in four games. They've dropped four of their last five games, allowing at least four goals in three of those four losses.
A little home cooking may be just what New Jersey needs. The Devils will play three games this week, with two on home ice. The only road game is in Philadelphia, a short drive down the New Jersey turnpike. It'll be a welcome change for a team ending October with a 4-4-1 record, putting it in a tie for third place with the New York Rangers.
Last week, the Devils looked like two different teams. In their 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and 5-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, the team was thoroughly outplayed by their opponents. They flipped the script against the Los Angeles Kings, shutting out a team that's among the best in the Western Conference. They played a solid game against the Dallas Stars, but ended up on the wrong end of an unlucky bounce.
Devils coach Peter DeBoer said he's not worried about his team's struggles.
"We played two excellent games," he told Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger. "And in the Phoenix game I think we played probably a period and a half or two good periods. We're not getting rewarded for it right now in the win column. You do enough of those good things, that eventually comes.
"We have a lot of hockey to go. We're not even at the 10-game mark. We're doing a lot of good things. We just have to stick with it, knowing we're going to get rewarded for it."
This week, the team returns to conference play, with three Eastern Conference teams on the schedule. Here now is our preview of the week ahead for the New Jersey Devils.
Wednesday, November 2: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New Jersey Devils - 7:30 p.m. (MSG Plus)
Toronto carries a 7-3-1 record into Wednesday night's contest for their first meeting with New Jersey. They've received production from Phil Kessel, who has 18 points through 11 games. As of Monday, he led the league in both points and goals. Both Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf have 11 points and average a point a game. Jonas Gustavsson has taken over for an injured James Reimer, posting a 3-3-0 record with a 3.72 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage.
In 19 games against the Devils, Kessel has 16 points (4 G, 12 A). Only three of those have come on the powerplay.
Thursday, November 3: New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers - 7 p.m. (MSG Plus)
The Devils travel down the turnpike for the first game of the season in Philadelphia. The Flyers lead the season series, 1-0-0. They beat the Devils, 3-0, on opening night at the Prudential Center. Since then, they've struggled to a 6-4-1 record. They've won just twice in their last six games, including a 9-8 loss against the Winnipeg Jets. Ilya Bryzgalov continues to struggle early the season. As of Monday, he had a 3.16 goals-against average and .880 save percentage. Their offense, however, continues to produce. Four players have ten or more points, led by Claude Giroux's 15 points (7 G, 8 A). Giroux is tied for second in the league in points with Thomas Vanek and Jason Spezza. Jaromir Jagr has five goals, including his first multi-goal of the game Saturday over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Saturday, November 5: Winnipeg Jets at New Jersey Devils - 7 p.m. (MSG Plus 2)
New Jersey will face off against the new Jets for the first time at home for the first time this season. Winnipeg enters the week in last place in Southeast Division with just seven points. Nik Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov lead the team with six assists and nine points. Kyle Wellwood leads all skaters with four goals. Ondrej Pavelec has struggled early this season, posting a 2-4-1 record with a 3.75 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage.
In 29 games against New Jersey, Antropov has 18 points (9 G, 9 A).
Devils Team Leaders:
Assists: Four tied - 4
Points: Patrik Elias - 8
Plus/Minus: Andy Green - +4
PIM: David Clarkson - 30
Wins: Johan Hedberg - 4
G.A.A.: Johan Hedberg - 2.28
Save Percentage: Johan Hedberg - .924
Shutouts: Johan Hedberg - 1
Next 5 Games
|Toronto||Wed 11/02||7:30 PM EDT|
|@ Philadelphia||Thu 11/03||7:00 PM EDT|
|Winnipeg||Sat 11/05||7:00 PM EDT|
|Carolina||Tue 11/08||7:30 PM EST|
|Washington||Fri 11/11||7:00 PM EST|
Last 5 Games
|@ Dallas||Sat 10/29||L 1 - 3|
|@ Phoenix||Thu 10/27||L 3 - 5|
|@ Los Angeles||Tue 10/25||W 3 - 0|
|@ Pittsburgh||Sat 10/22||L 1 - 4|
|San Jose||Fri 10/21||SO - L 3 - 4|