DEVILS NOT GOING AWAY
Many continue to wait for the New Jersey Devils to fade but it’s just not happening. Despite the lack of scoring, it might never happen over the next two months with the way Cory Schneider is playing.
The Devils are 4-1-2 over their last seven games, scoring 13 goals and allowing 10.
New Jersey has moved into third place in the division. Pittsburgh, Islanders trailing New Jersey in the division each have three games in hand.
Still, the Devils hanging around with great goaltending and stout defensive play has nine teams in the mix for eight playoff spots.
Carolina is also hanging around with 60 points (26 games remaining). Points remain at a premium for the Penguins, other bubble teams.
What’s been important for Pittsburg over the last 10 days is they’ve picked up wins in two games they were badly outplayed in.
The thrilling comeback vs the Panthers on Feb 6 and Friday night vs Carolina among the two.
That’s a big four point swing from going into tonight’s game with 63 points compared to 59 points. The narrative would surely seem a lot different right now.
The Hurricanes did everything right except put pucks behind Marc Andre Fleury. Without Justin Faulk, Carolina was still able to shutdown Sidney Crosby with Jordan Staal doing an excellent job on the Crosby line. They out-chanced Pittsburgh, had significant edge in shot attempts 5 v 5, 63-46, and limited the Penguins bottom-6 from being a factor.
The Penguins didn’t deserve a point, let alone two points but a testament to the Penguins, they found a way to get the two points and that’s what separates teams that just get in the playoffs and ones that don’t.
Even without Evgeni Malkin tonight, the Penguins are facing a Panthers team that is beaten down with injuries right now.
Star center Aleksander Barkov is out, along with forwards Brandon Pirri, Quinton Howden. On the blueline Willie Mitchell, Erik Gudbranson remain out.
Florida will also be starting backup Al Montoya tonight. The Panthers have lost four of their last five games.
For the Penguins no lineup changes will be made.
Fitting Jaromir Jagr turns 44 today and faces the Penguins. The second greatest Penguin ever has 17 goals and 40 points on the season as he closes in on his 19th career 20 goal season.