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A Devil of time in Jersey

Saturday, March 17, 2012
 

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Penguins have won 10 consecutive games and, for the first time in two years, finally showcase a healthy roster.

It's a good thing because under coach Dan Bylsma, wins -- to say nothing of goals -- are difficult to come by in New Jersey.

Bylsma's teams have scored 10 goals in their past eight games at Prudential Center, where they have gone 1-6-1 and lost four straight.

The Penguins will try to muster some offense and extend their winning streak to 11 today.

"We (need to) try and make them play at our pace," left wing Matt Cooke said. "That's the most important thing."

The Penguins want to turn the game into an up-tempo affair. The Devils have made a living by winning low-scoring, low-intensity games for a generation.

Although the Penguins are proud of their ability to win games in all fashions, they realize playing at New Jersey's pace doesn't make sense.

"They just have a great goalie and a great defense," center Evgeni Malkin said. "They make it tough to score. We need to move the puck more quickly against them."

New Jersey's strategy is simple: Take an early lead, form a wall at the blue line that forces the Penguins to dump the puck deep into New Jersey territory and have goaltender Martin Brodeur -- arguably the best puck-handling goalie in history -- direct the puck away from the Penguins' forecheckers.

"His touches against our team are significantly higher than other goaltenders," Bylsma said. "He comes out of the net a lot and plays the puck a lot. That's always something we have to look at going into a game against their team."

There are solutions, though none simple. The Penguins want to dump the puck to areas far enough from Brodeur that he remains in net. Also, short, crisp passes have worked better than stretch passes, which the Devils often easily defend.

The Penguins aren't the only team to struggle against the Devils, who have allowed just eight goals in the past eight games.

"I'm sure a lot of teams would say the same thing," center Sidney Crosby said. "It's the way they play. They're pretty stingy. They're committed to playing that way, and they stick with it."

Crosby and Malkin have had their struggles at Prudential Center. In Malkin's past five games there, he has managed one goal and no assists. Crosby has produced just one goal and no assists in his past four visits.

The Penguins are hoping that having a healthy roster will make a difference. Crosby, Malkin and center Jordan Staal haven't played a game together in New Jersey since March 2010.

"We have Sid and (Kris) Letang back now," Malkin said. "We have a great team."

Additional Information:

Prudential struggles

Here is how the Penguins have fared at Prudential Center under coach Dan Bylsma:

Record: 1-6-1 (all-time record is 5-7-3)

Goals scored: 10 (1.25 goals per game)

Times shut out: 2

 

 

 
 


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