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1/31-- Devils Game Preview

By: Brian Deakyne

Los Angeles Kings (32-19-3) at New Jersey Devils (35-16-2)

Previous Meetings: This will be the first, and only, regular season match-up between the Devils and the Kings.

How They've Fared: Devils: Due to a road trip that haunted the Devils nearly two weeks ago, New Jersey has not been playing their best hockey. In their most recent game, they defeated a sub-par Maple Leafs team in overtime in a battle that saw the Devils blow a lead late in the third period. They have lost six of their last nine and will be looking to get back to their constant winning ways against a hot Kings team.

How They've Fared: Kings: Los Angeles has been on a tear as of late, in the midst of a five game winning streak. Sitting in fifth in the Western Conference, and third in the talented Pacific Division, the Kings are in prime position to make a run at a higher playoff seed, seeing as winning the division is nearly impossible.

Who to Watch: Devils: For New Jersey, keep an eye on goalie Martin Brodeur. Despite leading the NHL in wins and shutouts, Brodeur has been struggling late in games, and that was evident in the breakdown against Toronto Friday night. The all-time wins and shutouts leader needs to step up and be the leader on a Devils team that needs one. Jersey's Team is in position to clinch the first seed in the East, but will need to play much better than they have for the latter part of January.

Who to Watch: Kings: Los Angeles has been lead offensively by one man: Anze Kopitar. With 23 goals and 32 assists, Kopitar has tallied 55 points for the Kings and seems to be involved in every goal they register. Look for him to have a big game tonight against a confidence-less Devils defense. If he is given the opportunity, Kopitar could soar in tonight's match-up.

Bottom Line: This will be interesting to see if New Jersey will bounce back after a month of struggles. Playing against a red-hot L.A team, it will be a strong test for the Devils and it will be intriguing to see how the defense matches up with Kopitar. I look for an exciting game with a few late goals from either side to decide it.

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