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1/26-- Devils Game Preview

By: Brian Deakyne

New Jersey Devils (34-15-1) at Ottawa Senators (28-21-4)

Previous Meetings: In the first meeting on November 7th, it was the Devils who climbed back from a 2-0 deficit in Ottawa with three power play goals (ironic, huh?) as Andy Greene banged home the go-ahead goal at 7:20 of the third period. Later that month on November 25th, a somewhat healthy Patrik Elias powered New Jersey past Ottawa at the Prudential Center with a late goal in the second period as the Devils would go on to win 3-1. On December 18th, at 'The Rock' again, Martin Brodeur would set an NHL record in his 1,030th career appearance, playing terrific as well, leading the Devils past Ottawa 4-2.

How They've Fared: Devils: The New Jersey Devils have been playing up-and-down as of late, having only won two of their last six. Still, Jersey's Team is coming off a big win on Long Island against an Islanders team that was on fire. The Atlantic Division leaders are looking to get a win-streak going following a forgettable road-trip last week.

How They've Fared: Senators: The Ottawa Senators are red hot, as they are currently riding a six-game win streak. With wins against quality opponents, such as Chicago and Boston, the Senators would love to take down the Devils, a team they have not beaten this season. At 28-21-4, Ottawa is sitting in fifth in the conference, seven points behind Northeast Division leader, Buffalo. If they continue to stay hot, they have a strong chance to knock off the Devils, and make a run for a top playoff spot.

Who to Watch: Devils: For New Jersey, the one man I would focus on is center Dainus Zubrus. Following a 30-game layoff due to a broken kneecap, it will be interesting to see how often Jacques Lemaire uses the power forward. If given the opportunity, especially if he plays with Zach Parise or Jamie Langenbrunner, Zubrus will have several scoring chances and can make an impact in his first game back.

Who to Watch: Senators: Jason Spezza, who just returned Saturday after missing 20 games with a knee injury, needs to continue to make a positive impact for Ottawa. In that first game back, Spezza scored the game-winner as the Senators defeated the division-leading Sabres 2-1. If Spezza is active all night he could be the play maker that has made him one of the most feared players in the NHL.

Bottom Line: For Ottawa, this could be win number seven in the current streak, and one against a worthy opponent as the Senators goal isn't to make the playoffs, but clinch one of the top three seeds (division leaders). For New Jersey, this win might mean a little more as the slightly slumping Devils need a win in a hostile environment to get back on track.

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