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2/2-- Devils Game Preview

By: Brian Deakyne

New Jersey Devils (35-17-2) at Toronto Maple Leafs (17-28-11)

Previous Meetings: Last Friday at the Prudential Center, the Devils and Leafs faced off for the first time. After Toronto stormed back with two late third period goals to tie the game at four, Travis Zajac scored the overtime power play goal to get the Devils the 5-4 win in a game where Zach Parise scored two goals and tallied two assists.

How They've Fared: Devils: The ongoing struggle for the Devils as of late continued Sunday evening against the Los Angeles Kings. After playing well all game, the Kings fought back to score two goals in the final 1:32 of play to defeat the Devils 3-2, who still sit atop the Atlantic Division, despite being 3-6-1 in their final ten games.

How They've Fared: Maple Leafs: In a season of losses and practically nothing to smile about, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke made a splash this week with several moves. He acquired Dion Phaneuf and Jen-Sebastien Giguere in an attempt to re-model the team for next season. Still, the Maple Leafs are dead last in the Northeast Division, and even a full-hearted effort last Friday in New Jersey wasn't enough to accredit Toronto with a big win.

Who to Watch: Devils: For New Jersey, expect Zach Parise to have another big day. In that 5-4 overtime win vs Toronto last week, Parise had two first period goals and two assists against a Maple Leafs defense that simply could not contain him. He can have a really big game against Toronto again, but should be challenged much more by the improved Maple Leafs defense.

Who to Watch: Maple Leafs: It will be very interesting to see the newly-paired tandem on Tomas Kaberle and Dion Phaneuf play together. They should compliment each other well, considering that both can handle the puck very well and have the ability to display some offensive skill on a team that may very well need it from their defense. Most importantly, it will be intriguing to see how these two defensemen match-up against the Parise-Zajac-Dainus Zubrus line of New Jersey, who torched Toronto on Friday.

Bottom Line: For a struggling Devils team, this is a game they need to win--plain and simple. They should beat the bottom-feeders of the Eastern Conference if they want to go anywhere, and will need this game to build up their confidence.


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