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Penguins vs. Devils Game Preview

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Overall:
18-8-2-38
Home: 8-5-1-17
Road: 10-3-1-21

WHEN: Dec. 6, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH:
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
New Jersey Devils
Overall:
8-16-2-18
Home: 4-6-2-10
Road:
4-10-0-8

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New Jersey Devils 
 
      
Jamie Langenbrunner
RW  -  #15
  3 Goals
  8 Assists
  11 Points
• In his past two seasons, the veteran forward posted his best numbers since entering the league in 1994, tallying 69 points (29G-40A) in 2008-09 and following that with 61 points (19G-42A) in 2009-10.

• The Devils captain also wore the “C” for the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, helping them capture a silver medal.

• The Cloquet, Minn., native, who has 28 points (12G-16A) in 51 career games-played against the Penguins, won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999.
 
Travis Zajac
C  -  #19
  3 Goals
  8 Assists
  11 Points
• The 25-year-old forward tallied personal-bests in goals (25), assists (42) and points (67) last season.

• The Devils’ ironman has appeared in a career-high 344-straight games since Oct. 6, 2006, good for the second-longest stretch in team history.

• Spent two seasons at the University of North Dakota after being drafted in the first round (20th overall) by New Jersey in 2004.
 
Andy Greene
D  -  #6
  2 goals
  8 assists
  10 points
• Is coming off a career year where he posted 37 points (6G-31A) through 78 games played last season with the Devils.

• The 5-foot-11, 190-pound defenseman has thrown his body in front of 61 shots and averages 22:35 minutes-played each game.

• The undrafted blueliner signed a free-agent contract with New Jersey on April 4, 2006 after playing four seasons for Miami (Ohio) University.
The last time the Devils and the Penguins faced off on Oct. 11, New Jersey played with a franchise-low 15 skaters because of injuries and salary-cap limitations. They dressed just nine forwards and six defensemen in a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh at the Prudential Center.

They’ll have a more complete roster Monday but are still dealing with significant injuries, most notably to forward Zach Parise and goaltender Martin Brodeur. They’ve won three of their past five games, but are currently ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference with an 8-16-2 record.

A bright spot for the Devils has been the return of captain Jamie Langenbrunner. In just his second game back after missing eight with a pinched nerve, he got two assists in a 5-3 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. He had six points (2G-4A) in the five games prior to his injury. Forward Ilya Kovalchuk, last season’s leading scorer with 85 points (41G-44A), has just 11 points (5G-6A) but tallied on the power play in that same game. Youngster Travis Zajac provides a solid presence at center between the two.

Veterans Patrik Elias and Jason Arnott anchor the second line. Arnott has been the squad’s most consistent scorer with a team-leading nine goals, while Elias paces the Devils with 17 points (3G-14A). Rookie forward Mattias Tedenby, drafted No. 24 overall by the Devils in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, rounds out the trio.  

Their defense has been spread thin with injuries to Bryce Salvador, Mark Fraser and Matt Taormina, paired with the preseason departures of Paul Martin and Johnny Oduya. Henrik Tallinder and Andy Greene have been anchoring the blue line in their stead, seeing time on both the power play and penalty kill. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Colin White, who has been with the Devils since 1999, provides an aggressive veteran presence with a team-leading 55 hits.

With Brodeur recovering from an elbow injury, Johan Hedberg will start in net on Monday. Hedberg stopped 113-of-117 shots in the team’s three wins, but got pulled on Saturday after allowing two goals in the first 1:38 of play.
  • With their 3-1 win over the Devils on Oct. 11, Pittsburgh ended a six-game losing streak to Atlantic Division rival New Jersey. That was the longest Devils undefeated streak versus the Penguins and spanned from Oct. 24, 2009 to Mar. 17, 2010.  In the victory, Paul Martin notched a goal and an assist in his return to the Prudential Center. Prior to signing a five-year contract with the Penguins in July, the blueliner played 400 games over six seasons for the Devils, the team that drafted him in the second round (62nd overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Martin had served as a team alternate captain.
  • Pittsburgh is shooting for their 10th straight win on Monday, which would tie their second-longest winning streak in team history (Jan. 28-Feb. 15, 1999). The Penguins are seven games from the NHL record they set in 1993, where they recorded the longest winning streak in a single season with 17 straight wins.
  • Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has currently won eight-straight games, tied for the longest winning streak of his career (first achieved Oct. 2-Oct. 20, 2009). During his 10-0-1 unbeaten streak, Fleury has posted a 1.70 goals-against average and has stopped 293 of 312 shots for a .939 save percentage. He has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his past six starts.
  • With Martin and Kris Letang combining for four points on Saturday, Penguins defensemen have factored into 63 of the team’s 88 goals (71.6 percent). Pittsburgh’s blueliners lead all NHL defensive corps with 72 points and 16 goals. Letang’s 26 points (5G-21A) rank second among the league’s defenseman, trailing only Atlanta’s Dustin Byfulgien, who has 28 points (10G-18A).

 

      
Puck Possession: The Devils organization has been known for being defense-oriented, allowing just 191 goals last season, an NHL–best. The Penguins, especially their third and fourth lines, have done a great job of controlling pucks in their opponent’s offensive zones and creating chances.

Throw Pucks at the Net:
In Saturday's 7-2 win at Columbus, Paul Martin opened the scoring because he sent the rubber towards the cage. It hit a skate and deflected in past a surprised Steve Mason. That happened on more than one occasion during the 7-2 win, and can happen again versus the Devils on Monday. You never know what weird bounces or deflections can occur when you put the puck on net.
C Jordan Staal, broken right hand (up to  two weeks)
F Mike Comrie, lower-body (4)
G Martin Brodeur, elbow (1 week)
LW Zach Parise, knee (February)
D Matt Taormina, high ankle sprain (indefinitely)
C Jacob Josefson, thumb (indefinitely)
D Mark Fraser, broken hand (indefinitely)
D Bryce Salvador, concussion (indefinitely)
D Anssi Salmela, knee (indefinitely)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (23) Arnott (9)
A
Crosby (23) Elias (13)
PTS
Crosby (46) Elias (17)
PIM
Engelland (57) Clarkson (55)
+/-
Letang (+14) 3 tied (+2)
PP
Crosby (8) 3 tied (2)
SH
Cooke (2)
Tallinder (2)
W/L
Fleury (11-6-1) Hedberg (4-5-1)
GAA
Johnson (2.00) Brodeur (2.74)
SVP
Johnson (.931) Brodeur (.901)

Paul Martin - The Penguins defenseman, who leads the team in both minutes-played (23:16 of ice per game) and blocked shots (52), is coming off one of his best offensive performances of the season. He became just the second defenseman in franchise history to score two unassisted power-play goals in a 7-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Entering the game, Martin had one empty-net goal through 27 contests. Coincidentally, that goal was scored the last time Pittsburgh faced off with New Jersey on Oct. 11. Martin spent six seasons with the Devils before signing a five-year contract with the Penguins on July 1.
 
Patrik Elias - Patrik Elias provided some glimpses of offensive brilliance in New Jersey’s 5-3 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. The veteran forward tallied a power-play goal with 44 seconds remaining to bring his team within one, and assisted on Ilya Kovalcuk’s power-play to open the scoring 3:02 into the first. He finished the game with six shots on goal. The left winger leads the team in scoring with 17 points (4G-13A) through 25 games, and is the Devils’ all-time leading scorer versus the Penguins with 56 points (21G-35A) through 64 games played.
 
 
 
 


Third Line's A Charm      
Aftermath: Penguins 7, Blue Jackets 2 
Martin, Power Play Lead Pens' Blowout 
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Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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