Devs host Pens in Atlantic showdown
Wednesday, 12.30.2009 / 7:00 PM
Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
PENGUINS (26-13-1) at DEVILS (27-9-1)
: Penguins 6-4-0; Devils 8-2-0
: This is the fourth of six meetings between the teams this season, but the first in New Jersey. The Devils won the first three games, including New Jersey's 4-0 win Dec. 21 that saw goalie Martin Brodeur
set the all-time shutout record with a 4-0 victory at Mellon Arena.
: Can the Stanley Cup champs solve the great Brodeur? With two goals in three games against him at Mellon Arena, the Penguins will take their chances at the Prudential Center. The winner will be atop the Atlantic Division and possibly the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins dug deep to win the Stanley Cup last spring, but they took it to a whole other level Monday. When the team's bus got stuck in a blizzard three blocks from its hotel in Buffalo, it was an organizational effort to get the rig rolling again. Coach Dan Bylsma led a charge that included players, coaches, trainers and members of the PR department.
"It was fun," Bylsma told the team's Web site. "That was old-school time. Growing up you do that a couple times a winter it seems like. I haven't done that in a while so it was kind of fun. I was just happy we didn't get sprayed by the tires."
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
was one of the players helping pushleading the effort. "I just put my big biceps on the bus, and it didn't take long after that."
Teammate Matt Cooke
also was pushing, and saw things a bit differently.
"I'm sure his intentions were good," Cooke said. "But I'm not sure he even touched the bus."
: That sigh of relief you heard coming from the New Jersey locker room came from Zach Parise
, who snapped a 12-game goal drought with a pair Monday against the Thrashers.
"It felt like every other goal,'' Parise told reporters. "It was nice to get back on track.''
His teammates certainly were happy for him.
"It's good for him,'' said Patrik Elias
. "He didn’t feel any pressure from anybody, because you can count on him giving his best effort every night, and it’s just a matter of time. "
: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby
has points in seven of his last eight games and has 32 points in his last 21 games. Parise might not have been scoring goals for the Devils, but he certainly was contributing, with 12 points and a plus-4 rating in his last 11 games.
: Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton returned Tuesday in Buffalo after missing the previous three games with a knee injury. Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador
is questionable due to a lower-body injury suffered Monday against Atlanta. The team put forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond on injured reserve Tuesday with an upper-body injury to make room for defenseman Matthew Corrente
to be called up from AHL Albany.
: The Devils lead the Eastern Conference with 14 home wins, while the Penguins are tied for the conference lead with 13 road victories.
: The Penguins are looking at this back-to-back set -- Buffalo on Tuesday, New Jersey on Wednesday -- as a measuring stick for where it stands in the conference.
"It should be exciting," Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette prior to the start of the set. "As you go on in the season and you try to establish yourself as a good team and an elite team in the League, you're going to have these matchups where you play teams at the top of the divisions, teams that also are establishing themselves as good teams. Those are a great test."
Contact Adam Kimelman at: email@example.com.