The New Jersey Devils (20-19-9) take on the Los Angeles Kings (22-21-4) in their second and final meeting of the season. The Devils are coming off of a 4-1 win against their divisional rival, the Philadelphia Flyers; Keith Kinkaid made 35 saves on 36 shots and Pavel Zacha, Kyle Palmieri, and Miles Wood (2) all tallied goals. This was Wood’s first career multi-goal game and was one assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick. The Kings played the New York Rangers last night and lost 3-2.
The two teams previously met back in November when they were on their California road trip and the Devils lost 4-2. Cory Schneider was in net and made 24 saves on 27 shots with a .889 save percentage. John Moore and Nick Lappin scored the Devils’ goals and they went 0/2 on the power play. Peter Budaj was in net for the Kings and made 21 saves on 23 shots.
Los Angeles is currently in the midst of a five-game road trip and New Jersey is in the middle. They have lost four straight games (against both New York teams, San Jose, and Tampa Bay) and they most certainly will be looking to end that slump against New Jersey. Budaj made the first three starts but Jeff Zatkoff was in net last night. Los Angeles currently does not hold a playoff spot in the West but are three points behind Calgary and St.Louis with 48.
Cory Schneider will most likely be in net, depending on how he feels this morning. Keith Kinkaid has made the previous two starts (against Montreal and Philly). The Kings’ starting goaltender is a toss-up. Budaj made the first three starts of this four-game losing streak but Zatkoff started last night. I could see either of them starting tonight.
The Devils lineup will probably be the same lineup from Saturday night’s game against Philly. Seth Helgeson and Devante Smith-Pelly were both healthy scratches. Beau Bennett (lower body) is still out. Andy Greene and John Moore are both ruled out for tonight’s game as well but Moore will not return until at least after the All-Star Break. He has resumed skating but has not practiced with the team yet. He won’t be back any time soon. Some good news: Yohann Auvitu was activated off injured reserve this morning and was assigned to Albany (AHL).
Anze Kopitar will be in the lineup for the Kings tonight; he did not play last time against New Jersey. Nic Dowd, Tyler Toffoli, and Matt Greene are all injured. Goalie Jonathan Quick is still injured. Although they only scored twice last night, their lineup will probably remain the same with only a few minor changes.
In retrospect, as a team, the Devils are playing significantly better and more coherently as one since their last meeting with the Kings. They have won four of their last five and are three points behind Philadelphia, who hold the final wildcard spot in the East. There are still three teams ahead of them (Boston, Florida, and Carolina) but every team in the East is still in the wildcard hunt. Ten teams are six points within each other; the playoff picture will likely come down right to the end of the season.
If the Devils play the way they have been, this is a winnable game. However, they have played much better on the road than at home as of late. Their last win at home was back on January 2nd against Boston. They have only won two of their last ten games at home, both shutouts. February will be a very home-heavy month for the Devils and they need to make The Rock a difficult place to play. This is the Devils’ second-to-last game (both home games) before the All-Star break so enjoy it; puck drops at 7PM.