The Devils look to start a tough stretch of their schedule on the right foot tonight, as they take on the Canadiens just a few days after attending the memorial service of Pat Burns, who helmed both teams over his illustrious career. The Habs got some extra motivation last night, coughing up a 3-1 lead to the lowly Oilers and losing in OT, 4-3. You can bet Montreal will come out gunning at The Rock Thursday. Here's what to watch for.
After breaking out for five goals against the Washington Capitals, the Devils have again struggled to find the back of the net. New Jersey managed just one regulation goal in wins over Calgary and Philadelphia and was blanked by the Isles. It's got to be nice for the Devils to have six standings points in their past four games, but they haven't quite proven they're pushed past their early-season ailments just yet.
Captain Jamie Langenbrunner said that he feels better after battling a neck injury and is ready to go, pending a decision from head coach John MacLean. Langenbrunner was sidelined Nov. 10 in a shootout loss to Buffalo. He seemed to be heating up before suffering the injury, recording four points in the three games before going down. We'll see if he can carry over any of that momentum Thursday night.
Cold Kovy Fired Up?
The New York Post's Mark Everson writes Thursday about Ilya Kovalchuk's response to rumors he's choosing not to score while MacLean is coach. And we can't really publish that response here. That a player would choose to mail it in and invite global criticism to get a coach ousted is a little tough to buy. The two may have had some differences over the shift to right wing and that healthy scratch against the Sabres, but man, a goal-scorer boycotting goals? That's like a fraternity house boycotting beer. I don't see it. Maybe the whispers will give Kovalchuk a little fuel for his fire Thursday night though.
Just one to share with you from the estimable Tom Gulitti: This past week was a particularly moving one for the Devils' David Clarkson, who departed the Burns service to fly to Kitchener and attend the wake of a five- year-old he'd met through his charity, Clarky's Kids. It's a touching story, and a great reminder that there are athletes whose concerns do extend beyond the game. Hat's off to Clarkson and condolences.