The New Jersey Devils began a six game homestand with a resounding 5-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice for the Devils (18,19). Also scoring for the Devils were Petr Sykora (11), David Clarkson (16), and Patrik Elias (17). Scoring for Winnipeg was Tobias Enstrom (3).
Overall, the Devils played well in this game. Although the Devils were only 1 for 4 on the powerplay, they were generating chances throughout. Clarkson missed on a few chances early in the game on the powerplay, but the the Devils' dominant play set the tone for the majority of the game. The Devils' lone powerplay goal came from Ilya Kovalchuk in the second period, just after a 5 on 3 expired. A well placed wrist shot beat Chris Mason glove side, and gave the Devils a 4-0 lead.
The hot play of Zach Parise and Kovalchuk continued, despite the absence of center Adam Henrique, who missed his second consecutive game with a strained groin. Parise assisted on Kovalchuk's first of the game, after blocking a shot off the stick of Enstrom. Parise sprung Kovalchuk on a breakaway, which he finished for his 18th goal of the year, and gave the Devils a 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
Looking ahead, the Devils take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, who embarrassed the Devils two weeks ago at the Prudential Center, 6-1. If the Devils are to beat the Bruins, they will need to win the battle along the boards. The Bruins play a gritty style of hockey, and if the Devils can't keep up with the Bruins grit and toughness, the game will open up more for Boston's skill players to finish their chances and bury the Devils.
Coming on Thursday, my MVP for each team in the NHL, and some bold predictions for after the all-star break.