Where: Prudential Center
Despite the Devils residing in the NHL's basement, they have been playing much better of late and have won three of their four last games, earning points in all of them. (Their only loss was in OT to Florida.) They have also scored 18 goals in those four games, with 11 different players chipping in offensively. Goalie Martin Brodeur has benefitted from a higher level of play and is 3-0-1 in his last four starts. He will get the start in net tonight for the Devils.
The Penguins, of course, will be missing both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin due to injury; the first game in 437 games where they have not had one or the other in the lineup (counting the playoffs). The last time both were missing in action was February 2nd, 2006, with Crosby hurt and Malkin not yet a member of the team. The Penguins lost that game to the Senators, 7-2. Let's hope history does not repeat itself.
A win for the Penguins tonight would see Dan Bylsma tie Scotty Bowman for third all-time in coaching wins with 95. Eddie Johnston (232) and Michel Therrien (135) are the only coaches in Penguins history who have more wins than Bowman.
Player to Watch: New Jersey Devils
Patrick Elias. The lone All-Star for the Devils is on a bit of hot streak, with eight points in his last eight games (3G, 5A). Elias has 57 points (22G, 35A) in 66 games against the Penguins, making him the franchise's all-time leading scorer against Pittsburgh. That's as good a reason as any to keep an eye on him.
Player to Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins
Dustin Jeffrey. The call-up from WBS with Crosby and Malkin hurt, this is his big chance to prove once and for all that he is a top-6 caliber NHL player. Jeffrey will get time on the top line as well as on the second PP unit. This could very well be a defining game for him.
Chris Kunitz has scored more goals than Ilya Kovalchuk at about 1/1000th of his cost. Go Pens.