Minnesota Wild (36-23-10) at New Jersey Devils (29-27-13)
|Date & Time||Thursday March 20, 2014, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: New Jersey Devils -121 / Minnesota Wild +110 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
It's getting late early for the New Jersey Devils and it might even be to the point where it's virtually impossible to make the playoffs at this point. After a very successful stretch that got them right back into playoff contention the Devils have gone on to lose three straight and almost effectively eliminate themselves. For the second year in a row it was a disaster of a road trip to Florida that might have been the final dagger. New Jersey choked away a lead to lose in regulation to the Panthers and then followed that up with a no-show performance in Tampa against the Lightning. The Devils returned home on Tuesday night to take on a Boston Bruins club that doesn't seem capable of losing and that meant another wasted night for New Jersey. An early power play goal in the second period from Patrik Elias evened the game at 1-1 but with the Devils still on the power play less than a minute later it was a short handed goal that changed the momentum for good. Boston would add another goal just about a minute after that as they handed the Devils a 4-2 defeat that keeps them five points out of the final Wild Card berth in the Eastern Conference. Right now the Devils are just an old team that doesn't look like they're structured to win in today's NHL. There are some young pieces there, but not many. Adam Larsson is rotting in the American Hockey League after being the fourth pick in the draft a few years ago. Adam Henrique has had another good season but he might be the only thing the Devils can hang their hat on. Jon Merrill has looked over matched on the ice of late and the rest of this club is just old and slow. Dainius Zubrus used to be a useful player for this hockey club and now he looks like a lost cause. Michael Ryder has been invisible since the Olympic Break, Martin Brodeur still starts too many games, and their best player is 42 year old Jaromir Jagr. New Jersey would have been better off moving some pieces and trying to get younger at the trading deadline but they didn't do that. It won't get any easier to get back into things with the Minnesota Wild coming to town on Thursday.
While the Devils were losing to the Bruins on Tuesday the Wild were in New York cruising past the Islanders. Matt Moulson scored two goals, Ilya Bryzgalov made 36 saves to record the shutout, and the Wild used three third period goals to put the game out of reach for good. It was a much needed victory for a Wild club that had lost five of their last six games coming into the contest. Minnesota had really had trouble scoring the last three games but they broke out in a big way in this one. Moulson and Jared Spurgeon scored first period goals, Mikael Granlund scored in the second, and then the Wild really broke it open in the third. Clayton Stoner picked up his first goal of the season, Justin Fontaine added his 13th, and Moulson finished off the 6-0 victory with a power play goal. The Wild are sitting pretty comfotably in a Wild Card spot right now but it's hard to feel confident in their chances come the post season with the way they've played of late. It's interesting to see the Devils favored in this one on Thursday night but it's understandable given Minnesota's struggles, New Jersey's desperation, and the fact that the Wild's big win came against the Islanders. This is a tough one to call but give me the better team with the plus money in this one.