NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, April 15th
(All times Eastern)
New Jersey Devils (15-16-10) at Toronto Maple Leafs (23-13-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While points in 12 of their last 13 games have put the
Toronto Maple Leafs in a great position to snap a seven-season playoff
drought, a nine-game slide by the New Jersey Devils has dropped them out of
the playoff picture.
The Devils will try to avoid matching the longest losing streak in club
history on Monday night when they battle the confident Maple Leafs.
New Jersey has gone 0-5-4 over its last nine, with each game coming minus
forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who is out with a sprained right shoulder. Though the
four post-regulation losses have kept the Devils from falling too far back,
they come into play on Monday in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 40
points and six back of the eighth-seeded New York Rangers with seven games to
Two of those games are against the Rangers in New York: April 21 and 27 to
close the regular season.
New Jersey will need to build some momentum ahead of those matchups and
avoiding matching a club-record 10-game slide set from Oct. 14-Nov. 4, 1983
would be a good start.
The Devils certainly didn't lack chances to end their skid on Friday versus
the Ottawa Senators, who they outshot 33-11, but the offense couldn't get
anything past Sens goaltender Craig Anderson in a 2-0 loss.
Martin Brodeur made nine saves for the Devils, who have scored more than two
goals just twice during their losing streak.
"The guys, offensively, are getting chances," Brodeur remarked. "They're
getting shots, they're getting looks, but nothing's going in. I'm really
disappointed with the result. What's not disappointing is the effort and the
way we've been playing."
Getting Kovalchuk and his 10 goals in 32 games back would help, but his
shoulder remains hindered and he is likely to miss his 10th game in a row
Also, defenseman Anton Volchenkov served the first of a four-game suspension
on Friday for an illegal elbow versus Boston two days earlier, while fellow
blueliner and captain Bryce Salvador sat out versus the Sens with a bruised
wrist. He is doubtful for this game.
While New Jersey is in danger of missing the postseason for only the second
time in the past 16 seasons, Toronto is in the driver's seat to reach the
playoffs for the first time since 2004 and snap the longest postseason drought
in team history.
The Maple Leafs are 3-0-1 in their past four games and 8-1-4 over the previous
13, putting them squarely fifth overall in the East, three points up on the
Toronto bested the Northeast Division-leading Montreal Canadiens on Saturday,
scoring three times in the game's first 10:25 and four times on their first
five shots in a 5-1 rout.
Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov and Jay McClement scored Toronto's first three goals
and Dion Phaneuf added a late first-period goal. Phil Kessel also scored and
added an assist, giving him five goals and eight points over his last four
James Reimer made 36 saves in the victory and James van Riemsdyk added a pair
"We're confident as a group in here," said Bozak. "We go into every game
thinking we can win as long as we stick to our game and play the system we
have in place."
The Maple Leafs have won three straight versus the Devils, including the first
two meetings of this season. They notched a 2-1 victory in the most recent
encounter on April 6 in New Jersey, getting 27 saves by Reimer and the winner
from Bozak in the third period.
The Leafs home victory on March 4 over the Devils snapped a three-game series
home slide, with all three setbacks having come in overtime.
04/15 10:36:17 ET