Thursday, January 29, 2009

Game Day vs Devils, 1/29/09

The meat grinder continues. In round two of this weeks battle royale, the Devils come to town, riding a 6 game winning streak. BC grad Scott Clemenson is *almost* making people forget about Martin Brodeur. His 2.25 GAA puts him 6th in the league. Not bad for a guy who has basically no chance of playing since he broke into the league. He's now 20-9-1 in his 30 games since Brodeur went down. Yes, the Devils play a very strict, solid defensive system. But don't be fooled. Clemenson is the real deal. The Dev's also have some surprising scoring punch up front this year. Raise your hand if you thought Zack Parise would have 28 goals at this point (or any) of the season? Patrick Elias isn't far behind, at 21 goals. And newly acquired veteran winger Brendan Shanahan already has 2 goals in his first 3 games. Despite all that, don't look for the scoreboard to be lighting up much. Unless of course, you're looking at the penalty minutes. I fully expect a bout or two tonight. It just seems "right". NJ wants this one badly, I'm sure. They're feeling good coming in. And there is nothing they'd love more than to knock off the Conference leader on their own ice. I expect an intense, physical game. That should lend itself to some tempers flaring, and off we they go. From the Boston side, the news is almost all great. Phil Kessel, he of the super human recovery skills (remember, he missed less than a month with cancer), did it again. He'll be back tonight after missing only 6 games with Mononucleosis. Michael Ryder, out with the flu for the Caps game, also will be back tonight. Only injury, other than Manny Fernandez, is Nokaleinen. But honestly, as much as I liked him and how he played last year...he really hasn't done a thing this season. So him missing a few games just gives rookie Byron Bitz more opportunity to prove he belongs. From the quotes from his teammates, specifically Shawn Thornton, the guys love Bitz and don't want him to go anywhere. Of course, Thornton is probably just happy to have another big body around to take some of the load off his back. I see Bitz *possibly* developing into a Shawn Thornton type player. A good all around player, that can actually play the game AND drop the gloves with anyone. Bitz isn't in the same league right now, but once he forgets all that Ivy league (Cornell) stuff and gets some NHL caliber experience, he'll be fine. He's got some good tutors around him now for sure. ROUGH STUFF: As I said, look for a big time physical game tonight. David Clarkson, the Dev's fighting major leader with 12, will probably have a scrap tonight. Not sure if he wants to get fed his lunch by Lucic again, but who knows? Lucic, fresh off a shoulder injury, is an even more risky proposition in the fight game. I'd really hate to see him aggravate the injury in a fight. Michael Rupp, a close second (11 bouts) to Clarkson could also get involved tonight. From the Boston side, I'd prefer to see a Thornton-Rupp and Bitz-Clarkson bout. Although, even though Clarkson is smaller than Rupp, he's a better fighter. So Thornton may be a better match up there. Either way, they should be entertaining tilts. PREDICTION: 2-1 would be too predictable I think. So I'm going with 3-2, possibly another OT game. But I think this ends in regulation. Go B's- Kynch

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