It just wouldn’t be a Monday holiday without an afternoon game at Nassau Coliseum, now would it? Here are four things to watch for when the Devils visit the Isles.
Turning the Corner?
Not much has gone right for the Devils this season, but with five points in their last three games, a win Monday would give the team its most successful stretch to date. The Devs are coming off a trio of solid meetings with the Sunshine State teams, beating the Lightning twice before falling to the Panthers in OT. Part of that success is due to the improved play of Martin Brodeur. Since entering in his team’s 2-1 loss at Philadelphia Jan. 8, the goalie has stopped 101 of the 109 shots he’s faced, a .927 save percentage.
That figure is roughly 40 points better than his substandard season mark of .889.
Killed on the PK
The Devils have allowed at least one power-play goal in each of their last four games and a total of eight in their previous seven contests. That will almost certainly be problematic against and Islanders team that’s notched nine PP goals in their last eight games. The Isles have been converting their man-advantage chances at a 39 percent clip over that stretch. If the Devils take a penalty this afternoon, they do so at their own peril.
Who will have the edge: The team incapable of generating shots or the team incapable of preventing them? The Devils have produced an average of 24.8 shots per game over their last eight, while the Islanders have allowed an average or 41 shots against in their past 10 games. Recent history shows the Devils will get the puck to the net tonight though. In the last meeting between these teams the Devils outshot the Islanders 35-14. Of course, the Devs ended up losing that game 5-1, which is almost incomprehensible. In case you were wondering, the Islanders enjoyed a shooting percentage of 35.7 that night.
The Islanders star has been hot over the past month, notching 19 points in his last 15 games, including a hat trick against the Sabres Saturday. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Islanders are 9-4-2 over that span. Simply put, the 2009 No. 1 pick is the most talented player on the team and he needs to produce when he’s on the ice. He’s done so lately, and against a team that’s allowed an average of 3.11 goals per game, there’s a solid chance he can continue that production Monday
Two quick hits to set the table for today’s matinee.
With James Wisniewski and Dwayne Roloson shipped out of town already, Pierre LeBrun writes that attention now shifts to Matt Moulson, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The plan according to LeBrun though is for the team to try to sign him and trade him only if they can’t lock him down.
Tom Gulitti posts that D Anton Volchenkov will return to the lineup after missing time following the death of his father, Alexei. According to head coach Jacques Lemaire, D Matt Corrente is a little “banged up” and won’t accompany the team to Long Island this afternoon.