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1/29-- Devils Game Preview

By: Brian Deakyne

Toronto Maple Leafs (17-27-10) at New Jersey Devils (34-16-2)

Previous Meetings: This marks the first match-up between the Maple Leafs and the Devils, though these two Eastern Conference foes will meet three times over the next week.

How They've Fared: Devils: Despite sitting atop the Atlantic Division, the Devils are not playing how they would like to as of late. Losers of in six of their last eight games, including back-to-back losses at Ottawa and Buffalo, New Jersey is looking to get some production from their entire line-up, rather than just Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, and Jamie Langenbrunner.

How They've Fared: Maple Leafs: For Toronto, 2009-2010 has been a year to forget. With a record of 17-27-10, they sit in last in the Northeast Division, and next-to-last in the entire conference. Recently, the Leafs have dropped their last four, and have question marks up and down their bench. The lone bright spot for Toronto has been the play from defensemen Tomas Kaberle, who has 37 assists and leads the team in points (42), although a team should never feel comfortable with a defensemen atop the points leaders.

Who to Watch: Devils: For New Jersey, the key factor is newcomer Nick Palmieiri. Playing on the first line Wednesday night, the 20 year-old saw extensive ice time and was involved in multiple chances, totaling 10 shots since he was called up to New Jersey two weeks ago. Against a lackluster opponent, look for Palmieiri to make an impact tonight.

Who to Watch: Maple Leafs: Matt Stajan has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise for the Leafs this season. With 15 goals on the season, he leads the last-place Maple Leafs and has become the only offensive player they can rely on. If he gets going, he can become an impact player tonight, but you can't ask too much from him, seeing as he has little help.

Bottom Line: Championship-worthy teams beat the teams they should and that's what the Devils need to do. Toronto does not have the talent to play with New Jersey, and the Devils need to dispose of the boys from Canada rather easily.


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