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New Jersey Devils vs. Chicago Blackhawks - 1/3/14

Chicago Blackhawks (28-7-8) at New Jersey Devils (17-16-8)
Date & Time Friday January 3, 2014, 7:00 PM (EST)
The Line
The Line: New Jersey Devils +148 / Chicago Blackhawks -163 --- Over/Under: 5.5
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The Chicago Blackhawks head to the Prudential Center looking to bounce back from their loss on Thursday night against the New York Islanders. Chicago trailed 2-0 and rallied to tie before falling 3-2 to the Islanders in overtime. Brent Seabrook's goal late in the second period got the Blackhwaks on the board and Ben Smith tied things up just 1:50 into the third. After Chicago dominated the first period it was an even game from there and the Blackhawks weren't able to solve Evgeni Nabokov after that point. Corey Crawford made 31 saves on the night but saw his record drop to 17-6-4 on the season. There's no excuse for a loss to the Islanders but Chicago has had a little bit of an issue with New York the last few years. It's clear that when you're the top dog like the Blackhawks are that other teams get up to play you and that was clearly the case in this one. Now the Blackhawks wil have to shake it off quickly because they head to New Jersey to take on a Devils team that's coming off a very strong win on Tuesday over the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a second consecutive 2-1 victory for the Devils and it's clear by now what their plan is each and every night. The Devils are doing everything in their power to force their opponent to come the length of the ice to generate scoring chances. New Jersey waits until their opponent becomes frustrated and starts trying to force things and turns them over and heads the other way. It's a very good game plan for a hockey club that's as offensively challenged as the Devils are but the only problem is that it doesn't leave much margin for error. Adam Henrique scored in the opening minutes to give the Devils a 1-0 lead and Michael Ryder's goal early in the second proved to be the game winner for Martin Brodeur who faced just 20 total shots while picking up his 12th win of the year. It's going to be much more difficult to play this type of style against a team as talented as the Blackhawks however. We saw that a few weeks ago when the Devils were beaten 5-2 at the United Center and were held to just 12 total shots in the game. The Devils never had the puck and when they did they were never able to get things going offensively. It's a bit of a catch twenty-two but when it's not working for New Jersey it makes them look really bad because of how limited their opportunities are. Friday night will be a chance for them to get a little revenge against Chicago but it's going to be that much harder now with the Blackhawks coming off of a loss. If the Devils can keep it close they might be able to capitalize against a tired Blackhawks club late in the third. Still it's hard to see the Blackhawks losing to two mediocre teams on back-to-back nights. 

Chicago -163

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