Caps before Christmas! Devils Report by Steve Palumbo
The New Jersey Devils (18-14-1) face-off against the Washington Capitals (17-4-1) tonight at the Prudential Center before take a couple says off to enjoy the Christmas Holiday.
The Caps trail the eighth seeded Devils by two points in the standings but New Jersey has played one more game. Tonight’s game marks the third time this season the clubs have faced off. The teams split a home-and-home series back in November. A win tonight will pull Washington even in points with New Jersey with a game in hand.
New Jersey will need a boost from leading scorer Patrik Elias who returns to the line-up after sitting out last game with the flu. Before Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers the Devils had been clicking offensively scoring 18 goals in the previous four games. Elias had six points (4g 2a) during that span.
Michal Neuvirth will start in net for the Capitals who are 5-5-0 in the last ten games. The 23 year-old picked up the 3-2 shootout loss the last time these teams met. It was his first career loss against New Jersey.
Washington will will face 39 year-old Martin Brodeur whom they’ve had tremendous success against recently. Brodeur is 0-5-0 in last five starts against the Caps with a 4.32 GAA.
Brodeur is 8-9-0 and has been struggling for most of the season but the future hall-of-famer has been especially bad at home going 0-3-0 in his last four starts. He is looking to change all that against a Washington team that is an NHL worst 6-9-0 on the road
New Jersey has been on a bit of a roll going 6-4-0 in their last ten but are just 7-6-1 at home.
Petr Sykora has been rolling along himself picking up five points in his last three games. While the Capitals Niklas Backstrom has been equally hot with five points in his last five games.
The Devils will have the weekend off to enjoy the Christmas holiday with their families before heading to Raleigh to take on the Hurricanes on Monday.
Hockey This Week
Follow Steve on Twitter @Westcoastdevfan