It's been a trying year for the New Jersey Devils.
After finishing second in the Eastern Conference during the 2009-2010 season, New Jersey failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs.
The league then rejected the initial 17-year, $102 million contract the Devils offered to Ilya Kovalchuk. That would begin "The Kovalchuk Saga," which consumed most of the offseason.
The regular season hasn't provided relief. The Devils, a perennial Cup contender, have dealt with injuries and inconsistent play in compiling a league-worst 9-25-2 record.
New Jersey will look to end their season on a high note as they face off against the Atlanta Thrashers tonight at the Prudential Center.
The Devils, the lowest scoring team in the league, couldn't overcome Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers Wednesday night at the Prudential Center. The Devils outshot the Rangers, 44-26, yet only scored once on Lundqvist. Michal Rozsival scored the game-winning goal in the second period, and Brandon Dubinsky iced the win with an empty-net goal in the third period.
Atlanta enters the New Years Eve matchup on a surprising run. The team is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, a marked improvement over last year. The Thrashers defeated the Boston Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout last night. Tobias Enstrom scored two powerplay goals, and both Tim Stapleton and Bryan Little scored in the shootout.
The Thrashers defeated the Devils, 7-1, on December 18 in Atlanta. The highlight of that game was Eric Boulton, a fourth-liner who compiled his first career hat trick.
Johan Hedberg will get the start tonight for the Devils. The former Thrasher allowed three goals on seven shots in relief of Martin Brodeur during the December 18 loss.