Key Observations Heading into Game 49 Between the Devils and Penguins

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By Annie Shean (@JustPuckIt)

The Penguins are coming off a 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday Night, which was best summed up in Meesh’s Postgame Thoughts where he stated the players looked lifeless. The team has 62 points and is currently ranked 5th in the Eastern Conference and 2nd in the metro division. If the Penguins expect to move up in the standings, they are going to have to get out of their funk and start looking like themselves again.

The New Jersey Devils are coming off a 2-1 Shoot out win against the Leafs. Since their coaching upheaval, the Devils have been 6-5-1 with their interesting coaching change. While they are likely to miss the playoffs, the team is picking up steam now that the Mumps seem to have passed. Leaders such as Patrik Elias (21 Points) and Adam Henrique (26 Points) heating up the Devils are still a very formidable and frustrating team.

The Lineup

On the injury front Evgeni Malkin will remain out of the lineup this evening with a lower body injury. Christian Ehrhoff is being sent back to Pittsburgh for concussion testing, per the teams head injury protocol. As for other lineup changes it was confirmed by Head Coach Mike Johnston that Beau Bennett will be a healthy scratch for the night.

“When you have 13 forwards you’re always making decisions as to what could help you for a particular game. It’s not only what they don’t offer, it’s about your competition. I thought his last couple games could be improved.”

The lines at practice consisted of Kunitz, Crosby, Perron on the first; Spaling, Sutter, and Hornqvist for the second line. The fourth line remains intact while the third is made up of Arcobello, Lapierre, and Downie. Because of Ehrhoff’s absence, the D pairings  were Letang/Despres, Martin/Scuderi, and Harrington/Bortuzzo. Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to be in net this evening, facing Corey Schneider at the other end.

Hot Topic of the Day

Photo Edit by A. Shean / Original Image Credit Getty Images

Photo Edit by A. Shean / Original Image Credit Getty Images

Oh hey, It’s that time of year again! #JagrWatch2015 is in full effect. With the Penguins playing the Devils, the rumors have picked up again on the possibility of #68 being part of a trade deal between the Devils and the Pens. Don’t start making the ‘I’m Coming Home‘ videos yet though; while Mark Madden (105.9 The X) has stated talks are heating up between the two clubs, Dejan Kovacevic had a more demure comment:

“All I know about the Penguins and Jaromir Jagr is that Evgeni Malkin was recently approached by management to see if he’d see No. 68 as a good fit on his line. Malkin affirmed. That’s it, at least for what’s made it to me. I’ve heard nothing else”
Dejan Kovacevic, Friday Insider

Either way, whether a move is made or not, who doesn’t enjoy the excitement and insanity of #JagrWatch?

 

Keys to the Game

Energy: While the Devils style of play has a habit of putting hockey fans to sleep, the Penguins need to play like they’ve drank a gallon of Red Bull. If they can find their energy on the ice they have a very significant chance to wear out their opponent.

Be a Pest: With guys like Perron, Hornqvist, Kunitz, and Downie in the lineup I would like to see a strong net-front presence. Be the Pesky forward who crashes the net, force the dirty rebound goals, and make Corey Schneider’s hair stand up on the back of his neck.

Back to Basics: Cover your man, limit turnover opportunities by retaining puck possession, minimize the pinball passing, and just find a lane to get the puck to the net. I know this may sound silly, but perhaps getting back to a simpler game will help the Pens overcome their ‘funk’ and back on track.