After a hiccup at home in two shutout losses to Boston and Pittsburgh, the Devils responded well at Madison Square Garden to defeat the New York Rangers 4-2.
Once again, Zach Parise and Patrik Elias led the way for the Devils, and continue to fill up the stat sheets.
The Devils travel to St. Louis tonight to take on the Blues. These teams did not match up last year, and it marks the return of defenseman Bryce Salvador to the place he played most of his career.
It also matches up former Devil Cam Janssen against his former team. Remember, Janssen was the native St. Louian who was sent by the Devils to St. Louis for Salvador at last year's trading deadline.
The Blues come in having lost three of their last four, but did have a shining moment this past Saturday by giving the San Jose Sharks a rare loss. RW Brad Boyes leads the Blues in scoring, with 17 goals and 15 assists, but he is a minus-22. LW Keith Tkachuk had a blazing start and still has 13 goals and 13 assists on the year, a solid total for 36 games. Overall, the Blues stand at 14-19-3, and occupy the basement in the Central Division.
They will miss some key players due to injuries, led by young defenseman Erik Johnson, who had a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee after a golf-cart incident this past September. They also are without Paul Kariya (hip surgery), Andy McDonald (fractured left leg), Erik Brewer (herniated disk in back), and Jay McKee (fractured finger), so they are playing a bit shorthanded.
In net, Chris Mason leads the way for St. Louis, and won his only career start against the Devils, playing with Nashville on October 19, 2006. Ironically, Mason was originally drafted as a fifth-round pick by the Devils in the 1995 draft. Manny Legace also shares the time with Mason between the pipes, and has started 20 games thus far this year, compared to 17 for Mason.
After the Devils tangle with the Blues, they move on to play the Dallas Stars. A trip to Dallas always rekindles strong memories for the Devils, as it was on June 12, 2000, when the Devils won their second Stanley Cup Championship in Dallas, on an overtime goal by Jason Arnott. You can likely expect to see that highlight at least once or twice during the broadcast on Wednesday night.
The Devils are going to look to the end the calendar year strong, playing two last place teams. Even though both teams (Blues and Stars) don't look strong on paper necessarily, you should expect tight games, as neither one should be expected to be a cakewalk.
It should be interesting to see how the Devils respond after an emotional win against their archrival New York Rangers, and a couple of days off. In the past, you might think they were prime for a let down, but here's hoping that doesn't turn out to be the case.
Apparently, the injury bug has found D Colin White, who missed practice with the infamous "upper body injury." Expect White to miss the two games, as Bryce Salvador does return to the lineup after an inner ear problem.
Also expect Scott Clemmensen to start against St. Louis, and if he plays well, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him start in Dallas as well.
Zach Parise got his 200th NHL point against the Rangers Saturday night. Congratulations, Zach!
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