Date/Time: December 31st, 1:00 p.m. ET
Television: NBC Sports Network
Your New Year’s Eve kicks off on the ice at 1:00 ET at the Prudential Center, where the New Jersey Devils are going to hope to close out 2013 in style against one of their hated enemies, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It will be interesting to see how the Pens do in this one without RW Pascal Dupuis. With Dupuis nursing a long-term injury which will probably cost him the rest of the season, C Sidney Crosby needs a new line-mate to join LW Chris Kunitz. There is no doubt that the team is going to be in the market for a speedy skater to pair with Sid the Kid, as we just don’t think that LW James Neal fits the billing. Neal belongs alongside C Evgeni Malkin, who probably won’t be cleared to play in this game either. Parlay all of that with as many as six defensemen missing games in the recent past, and you’d think that the Penguins are a disaster. However, they have won 14 of their last 16 games, and the only real dud in the bunch was a 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators, the game in which Dupuis was lost. Since that point, Pittsburgh has rolled off two wins, scoring nine goals in the two games as if nothing had ever happened.
The Devils have been beaten 10 times in 17 home game this year, and that just isn’t going to cut it to get into the playoffs when push comes to shove in the Eastern Conference. Though these next two games are at home, they come against arguably the two best teams in hockey, and we saw just before Christmas, New Jersey had no luck against the Chicago Blackhawks in a 5-2 defeat. In fact, the Devils have played four games against teams with at least 55 points going into the new year since Thanksgiving, and they have just one point to show for their work in those games. Both G Cory Schneider and G Martin Brodeur are playing well at the moment, as they have 2.13 and 2.31 GAAs respectively. We aren’t sure which man is going to get the call against the Pens, but whichever one does is going to have their work cut out for them. The Devils have one of the best defenses in the league, but they don’t often face teams like this who will run up and down the ice with ease for the full 60 minutes.
Though the Penguins continue to prove us wrong and we feel like the kid who keeps putting his hand on the hot burner even though he knows it’s going to hurt, we still think there is a lot of value fading them. They have far too many injuries to continue to succeed at this level, and any price on New Jersey which has it as an underdog is good value in our eyes on New Year’s Eve.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ New Jersey Devils Pick: New Jersey Devils
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.