What you may need to know before the Devils and Penguins take to the ice at Times Union Center tonight:
-Season: This is the 6th meeting between the two teams this season, with the Pens going undefeated in all 6 matchups. Last meeting, on January 22nd in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens got past an early 1-0 deficit and cruised to a 6-2 victory. The Devils franchise (Lowell and Albany) are still looking for their first ever win against the Penguins. The teams face off two more times, on February 7th in Atlantic City (makeup game from December 12th) and on March 23rd in Wilkes-Barre.
-Standings: Not much of a change since the last meeting. The Penguins remain in first place in the East Division, Eastern Conference and American Hockey League, checking in with a record of 35-10-0-0, good for 70 points and a 13 point lead over second place Norfolk. After a victory over Bridgeport on Tuesday night, the Devils sit in 6th place in the division with a record of 18-23-0-3, good for 39 points and a one point lead over Syracuse.
-Scoring: The Penguins are lead in scoring by center Dustin Jeffrey with 43 points (17 G, 26 A) and winger Brett Sterling with 34 points (17 G, 17 A). With All Star starter Brad Thiessen out due to injury, All-Star replacement John Curry has become the main starter, with recent callup Alexander Pechurskiy backing up. On the home side, Matt Anderson continues to lead the Devils in scoring with 31 points (16 G, 15 A), followed by Michael Swift with 28 points (16 G, 12 A). With Jeff Frazee out for at least two weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery, Mike McKenna will take over in net, looking to build on the 6-4 win in Bridgeport on Tuesday. I am sure at some point backup Dave Caruso will get some game action other than the relief appearance in Hershey on Friday night.
-Miscellaneous: on Thursday, two more Penguins were added to the All Star roster as replacements: forward Eric Tangradi and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, joining teammate John Curry. Brad Thiessen and Dustin Jeffrey were original picks, but will not play. Ex-Rat Jesse Boulerice is slated to return from a 10 game suspension received in early January. The Devils received 4 reinforcements from New Jersey while the NHL is on All Star Break: forwards Nick Palmieri, Vladimir Zharkov, and Mattias Tedenby, along with defenseman Mark Fraser, back down for what is being termed as another “conditioning” stint.
Game time 7:00. I will of course be in attendance with the usual…