Record: 39-23-3 (4th in the East)
Scorers: Zach Parise (31g, 36a), Ilya Kovalchuk (34g, 32a), Travis Zajac (21g, 36a)
If ever there was a team giving the Penguins a run for their money this season than it would be the Devils. New Jersey holds a 4-0 lead on the series so far and now have the benefit of home ice for two games against the Pens over the next week.
When the Olympic break started the Devils were up one point on the Penguins in the Atlantic. Now, just about two weeks out of the break, the Penguins are the ones sitting atop the division with a four-point lead. The opportunity to really set them apart from New Jersey presents itself on this five-game road trip.
In more recent action, the Penguins have not lost a game in regulation since February 6th against the Canadiens. That doesn't necessarily mean they are on a win streak, but the point streak is at least alive and well with a 5-0-4. Sure you can argue that the Pens missed out on four points with those shootout and overtime losses, but they also wouldn't hold the division lead right now if not for the pity points. So in other words, let's take it.
The Devils are an even 2-2 since returning from the Oly break. Wednesday night against the Rangers, NJ tied a season high for goals scored in a 6-3 win over the Rangers. Of course they needed a performance like that after an abysmal 2-0 shutout loss to the Oilers earlier in the week.
Since joining the Devils, Ilya Kovalchuk has three goals and five assists over 10 games. That's not a bad performance by any means, but I'm sure Devils fans would like to see an increase in the 'G' column as the regular season winds down. Kovi is scoreless in two games against the Pens this season.
On a final note, in case you haven't seen Hooks and I chirping away this week, we will both be on hand for the game tonight. I know tehchico will be there as well, but if anyone else plans on coming in for the game shoot me an e-mail and maybe we can all meet up. I know Hooks and I will be at the bar across the street starting at 4:00ish. Look for a guy in a blue Winter Classic Orpik jersey (Hooks). I've yet to decide which one I'm wearing, but I think I may go with the old school Mario jerz (the one where Pittsburgh is spelled diagonally across the chest).
Puck and thread drop at 7:00. JustinM makes his recap debut tonight after the game.