Well, this is it. One last game before the offseason.
The New Jersey Devils (28-39-14) will take part in the last ever game at Joe Louis Arena when they take on the Detroit Red Wings (32-36-13) in their regular season finale. The Red Wings failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 25 years (which is quite the streak but all streaks must come to an end).
The Devils are 1-0-1 against the Wings this season. They lost 5-4 in overtime back in November but won 4-3 on the road in January. That game recap is here: 1/31/17 Game Recap: New Jersey Devils vs. Detroit Red Wings
Cory Schneider (20-26-11, 2.79 GAA, .909 save %) and Jimmy Howard (9-11-1, 2.15 GAA, .926 save %) will get the starts in net for their respective teams tonight. Both teams are coming off of losses last night: the Devils fell in regulation to the Islanders, 4-2, while the Red Wings lost in overtime, 3-2, to the Canadiens.
Neither team skated this morning so any lineup notes won’t be announced until their coaches speak to the media. The Devils will likely return to 12 forwards and 6 defenseman after going 11/7 last night. Damon Severson was benched for a good portion of last night’s game, and may or may not be in the lineup tonight. Expect the AHL-eligible players to be sent down to Albany tomorrow morning (or tonight, depending on how fast the Devils work). Albany does not play again until Wednesday when they take on Hartford. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 5;
Both teams have nothing left to play for in terms of playoff contention but I don’t expect the Devils to win tonight. I’m not sure I’d even want them to. It’d be nice for the Wings to win the last game and losing would just help the Devils in terms of draft position. I just want a good game and it should be; both New Jersey and Detroit are pretty evenly matched.
Kyle Palmieri is still looking for career goal #100 and it would be nice for him to get it today and get it off his back. He’s scored a pair of goals already against the Red Wings this season, as does Adam Henrique, who sits at 20 on the season. Captain Henrik Zetterberg will play his 1,000th career NHL game tonight.
Saying farewell to Joe Louis Arena has been a season-long affair and there won’t be a dry eye in the house tonight. That building holds so many memories for Red Wings fans and fans of the game alike. Arguably, my favorite moment of the Arena is when the Devils swept the Red Wings, 4-0, in 1995 to win their first Stanley Cup (five months before I was born, but hey, it counts!) in franchise history (they did win at home but winning both game one and two at Joe Louis Arena was important). I don’t think Red Wings fans really want to remember that night by watching their team play the Devils tonight but it’s the way the schedule worked out.
It will be an emotional one all-around; puck drops at 5PM.