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15 March 2007

Pittsburgh beats the Devils at their own game

Despite the uninspired performance of New Jersey in last nights game, I give most of the credit in the victory to the Penguins. Pittsburgh displayed an impressive forecheck and awesome pressure on the Devils rookie defensemen, Johnny Oduya and Andy Greene, who, while solid players, buckled under that pressure. Penguins rookie Jordan Stall was, in my opinion, especially impressive - a winger with impressive offensive skills and awesome defensive instincts, Staal would be a phenomenal Devil. Unfortunately, with the Penguins staying in Pittsburgh, the kid will be playing against New Jersey for many years to come.

As impressive as Pittsburgh's forecheck was the solid backchecking and neutral-zone defense which stifled New Jersey's offense, shutting down everyone from Patrik Elias to Jamie Langenbrunner. The only player who looked like he had any life on the offensive side of the puck was pivot Scott Gomez - but Gomez, while an awesome skater and trap-buster, isn't much of a finisher and can't beat a team by himself.

In the meantime, with Elias and Madden both beaten up after the game, the Devils could very well be down three top forwards since winger Brian Gionta is also injured. Already having played a game with a roster of 16 skaters, instead of the typical 18, the Devils could be looking at a slow slide down the standings as the injuries pile up and the salary cap prevents them from calling up reinforcements.

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