Now more than ever, with the absence of Jamie Langenbrunner, the Devils will need to play a focused and complete game. Although Brian Rolston appears to be the go to guy to fill in his spot, Brent Sutter hasn’t committed him to the line just yet. Bobby Holik will be filling the hole left in the roster.
The Devils will have a lot to think about during this game tonight at 7:30. Below are some important points to keep in mind.
First, the Devils need to capitalize on their power play. Yes, the Devils did score a power play goal, but it was out of 6 chances. In game 1, although the Devils were unable to score on the power play, a couple of their goals came immediately following the end of a Carolina penalty kill.
Second, the Devils must have a dedicated man on Eric Staal. His presence in front of the Devils net scored both goals for Carolina in game 2 and expect Staal to continue this placement for game 3. They need to find ways to keep him clear of Martin Brodeur’s crease and to keep the pucks from finding him.
Third, the Devils need to keep consistent with their lines. Brent Sutter likes to mix things up during the game when things aren’t going his way. Without home ice, he must put out the first line for a faceoff, and this could give Carolina an advantage. He should pick a combination that is producing and play that for 60 minutes.
Last, the Devils must play disciplined. They did a good job of this earlier, only getting two and four in games 1 and 2, respectively. But in game 2, one of those penalties did lead to a Carolina power play goal. They must continue to play disciplined without taking bad penalties or else they will be on their heels quickly.
As mentioned earlier, Sutter hasn’t committed Brian Rolston to the Z Z Pops line to replace Jamie Langenbrunner. Although the threesome skated together in practice, Sutter told Tom Gulitti
"I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet. We know, but I’m not saying. You’ll find out, I guess. I just think it’s a situation where we could try different scenarios with a lot of different line combinations."
Zach Parise agrees Rolston would be a better choice, stating "We need an older guy in the lineup with us." He was joking – sort of.
With Bobby Holik in the lineup, Sutter is concerned about his ability to take penalties. In another Tom Gulitti interview with Brent Sutter
"I hope he’s fired up, but I want him fired up in the right way. We need discipline. I don’t want any bad penalties. So, I think Bobby will be ready to play."
To be fair to Bobby Holik, he averaged one penalty minute per game. Bryce Salvador was just as bad, while Mike Rupp and David Clarkson neared an average of two penalty minutes per game.