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2/5-- Devils Game Preview

By: Brian Deakyne

Toronto Maple Leafs (18-28-11) at New Jersey Devils (35-18-2)

Previous Meetings: In the only two meetings this season, both in the last week, the Devils and Maple leafs split both games. Last Friday, it was Zach Parise who led the Devils past the slumping Leafs 5-4 in overtime, with Parise scoring twice and tallying two assists. On Wednesday, the new-look Leafs dominated an unconfident New Jersey team 3-0, with newcomers Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom, and Jean-Sebasten Giguere all having a major impact. Giguere, in his first start as a Leaf, would post a 28-save shutout, looking dominant through out.

How They've Fared: Devils: With their loss last Wednesday to Toronto, the Devils dropped to 3-7-1 in their last 11 games, averaging a little of 1.6 goals per game--a place they do not want to be at. An unconfident team took the ice at Air Canada Centre in Toronto this week, and tonight, they Devils will look to change that.

How They've Fared: Maple Leafs: On Wednesday night, a modulated Toronto team easily took care of the first-place Devils, 3-0; something that gave every Leafs player, coach, or fan hope. Behind several of the newly-acquired Maple Leafs, they disposed of the Devils in every phase of the game.

Who to Watch: Devils: There's no doubt who the man to watch in red will be tonight--Ilya Kovalchuk. In this, his first game with the first-place Devils, every eye at the Prudential Center will be on the 26 year old Russian, who is fifth in the NHL with 31 goals. Kovalchuk says he's 'thrilled' to be with the Devils, so tonight will be big for everyone to see how he will perform on a true contending team.

Who to Watch: Maple Leafs: If he plays-- Jean Sebastien Giguere--will be exciting to watch. In his first and only game with Toronto, a 3-0 win vs New Jersey, Giguere stoned the Devils, turning away all 28 shots, earning his first win and shutout as a Maple Leaf. There is no reason not to play 'Giggy' again tonight, in a game that will feature some of the best scorers in the NHL.

Bottom Line: New Jersey did the best they could to fix their scoring woes by acquiring arguably the best finisher in the game. Tonight will be a true test to see if Kovalchuk will be the Devils answer and will help them get back on the winning pace. For Toronto, tonight will be a test to see if Wednesday's beat-down was simply a fluke, or if this team has enough talent to seriously play with the best of them.


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