The New Jersey Devils head to St. Paul to play the best of the West in their impressive road trip’s finale.
- New Jersey Devils (18-18-9, 45 pts)
- Minnesota Wild (28-9-5, 61 pts)
- NHL, Jan. 17, 8 p.m. ET, MSG+
- Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
Collecting five of a possible six points, thus far, in their tour across Western North America, the New Jersey Devils would love nothing more than to beat former friend Zach Parise and the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild, who had a 12-game winning streak snapped just after the New Year, are playing better than ever, sitting in the driver’s seat of the Central Division, staying just above the always nasty Chicago Blackhawks.
Eric Staal, who was acquired by the Wild in the offseason as a free agent, has accumulated 39 points, and is playing at a level the NHL hasn’t seen since his earlier years in Carolina. Now, 32 years of age, he is proving that he still can play at the elite level, despite showing signs of weakness in his short time with the New York Rangers last season.
Also among the top performers in Minnesota are Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, and Mikko Koivu whom have all scored at least 10 goals and accumulated thirty points. Oddly not on that list is Parise, who only has just eight goals and 12 assists, a slow pace that he really never played at as a member of the New Jersey Devils.
As for the Devils, scoring has still been scarce, but points are still coming their way thanks to solid defense and goaltending. It also would have to be stated that consistent offensive pressure, regardless of conversion rate, has kept teams away from Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid’s net throughout the road trip.
For the fourth game in a row now, if the Devils manage to maintain the pressure in the offensive zone, and keep the weight off the starting goalie, he, whomever it is, will keep the pucks out of the net.
Keeping all of that in mind, New Jersey’s biggest issue might be the Wild’s goaltending. If they are unfortunate enough to see Devan Dubnyk in Minnesota’s net tonight, all bets might be off on the Devils breaking through and scoring more than just a couple.
If they keep their heads up, and keep consistent offensive pressure, it will give Schneider enough breathing room to contribute to a low scoring victory yet again, to close out the Western trip.