Penguins, Devils each seek first win of season
PENGUINS (0-2-0) at DEVILS (0-1-1)
TV: NHLN-CA, FS-P (HD), MSG PLUS (HD)
Season series --
The Devils handled the Penguins with relative ease last season, winning all six games while outscoring their Atlantic Division foe, 22-5. It marked the first time either team swept a season series against the other. Incredibly, the Devils haven't lost a series to the Pens in eight seasons. The Penguins last won a season series against New Jersey during the 2000-01 campaign, going 3-1-1.
Big story --
It'll be a pretty emotional afternoon for Penguins defenseman Paul Martin
, who returns to face the team he played for the previous six seasons before signing a five-year contract with the Pens in July. Martin played in 400 career games for New Jersey, which drafted him in the second round in 2000. While he finished first among Devils' defenders with a plus-10 rating in 2009-10, he was limited to just 22 games due to a non-displaced fracture in his left forearm. Martin had 26 goals, 137 points and a plus-55 rating with the Devils. On Saturday, Martin had one assist, five shots and over 22 minutes of ice time in a loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
"I'd be lying if I said it won't be a little weird," Martin told NHL.com. "I've been there so long with the same guys there and that organization, so I'm sure there will be some emotions there. But it'll be different."
The Penguins went 0-2 to open the season -- dropping back-to-back 3-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday and Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. After winning all three preseason games at the new state-of-the-art Consol Energy Center, the Pens have now lost both regular-season games there. The Pens have opened the season 1-for-11 on the power-play and Sidney Crosby
has one assist and a minus-2 rating and Evgeni Malkin
one goal and a minus-1 rating in two games.
The Devils have opened the 2010-11 season with losses to the Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals. The line of Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk has combined for 2 goals, 6 points and a plus-1 rating in two games. In a 7-2 loss to Washington on Saturday, goalie Martin Brodeur yielded five goals on 19 shots and did not return for the third period. He's allowed nine goals in 102 minutes of work. Brodeur, who holds the NHL record for career victories, allowed five goals only four times last season.
Who's hot --
Zajac, the first-line center, is certainly reaping the benefits playing between Parise and Kovalchuk -- he's got a goal, 3 points and plus-2 rating in two games while average just over 21 minutes of ice time.
Injury report --
The Penguins are without forward Jordan Staal
(foot) and Arron Asham
(shoulder). … The Devils could be without defenseman Anton Volchenkov (broken nose) and forward Brian Rolston (lower body), who were both injured against the Capitals on Saturday. Winger Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond could be suspended for the Pittsburgh game for instigating a fight with Washington's Marcus Johansson in the final five minutes of Saturday's game.
Stat pack --
Parise finished with 3 goals and 6 assists in the series with Pittsburgh last season to lead all scorers with 9 points. … Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby
had a goal and 2 assists and Evgeni Malkin
, contributed one point in just four appearances.
Puck drop --
Both the Devils and the Penguins are seeking their first victory of the season, so it should certainly be an emotional afternoon encounter at Prudential Center. The Devils entered the season with 11 forwards on the active roster and the pending loss of Rolston and Leblond for the game shortens the bench even more. It remains to be seen what General Manager Lou Lamoriello will do in attempt to bolster his roster while remaining within the limitations of the salary cap. Either way, coach John MacLean will be forced to double-shift a few players.
"We have the forwards that if we need to double-shift somebody, there's lots of guys that want that opportunity," MacLean said. "A lot of that is going to be by the feel of a game to see how it goes. Sometimes with penalties, power plays, you're going to have to see how that shakes out. You're not just going to say automatically, you're going to go three or automatically you're going to go four. I'll get the feel of the game as we go along."