NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, October 4th
(All times eastern)
New Jersey Devils (0-0-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (0-0-0), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - New Jersey and Tampa Bay will begin their regular seasons
tonight in Florida, as the Lightning host the Devils at St. Pete Times Forum.
The Devils and Lightning both made the playoffs last year and the clubs
actually met in the first round. Jersey won that series in six games before
losing to Ottawa in the following round.
New Jersey head coach Brent Sutter will make his NHL coaching debut this
evening after landing the Devils job in the offseason. The 45-year-old Sutter
was one of six brothers to play in the NHL and is now the fourth member of the
famous hockey family to become a head coach in the league.
Sutter will take over for Lou Lamoriello, the Devils longtime general manager,
who ended last year as New Jersey's head coach. Lamoriello took over the job
when he fired Claude Julien, who was axed after 79 games last year despite the
fact that the team was in first place.
The Devils have won three of the last four Atlantic Division titles, but both
the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins come into this season as
favorites over New Jersey to take the crown this year. That's due in large
part to the fact that the Devils lost their best playmaker (Scott Gomez) and
top defenseman (Brian Rafalski) over the offseason.
New Jersey still has franchise goaltender and future Hall-of-Famer Martin
Brodeur between the pipes this season. Brodeur put together one of the finest
seasons of his stellar NHL career in 2006-07 and was awarded his third Vezina
Trophy as the league's best goaltender. The 35-year-old goaltender has showed
no signs of slowing down and actually played in a career-high 78 regular-
season games last year.
The Lightning possess one of the NHL's best scoring tandems in centerman
Vincent Lecavalier and right wing Martin St. Louis. Both players posted
career-best numbers in points last year, as they each eclipsed the century
mark for the first time.
Lecavalier, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft, won the Maurice "Rocket"
Richard Trophy last year by leading the league with 52 goals and ended the
campaign with 108 total points. St. Louis played in all 82 games last year and
notched 102 points (43 goals, 59 assists).
Lecavalier enters this season with an upper body injury, but is probable for
this evening's contest.
Tampa will be without its top defenseman for the beginning of the season as
Dan Boyle recovers from surgery to repair severed tendons in his wrist. Boyle,
who will miss 4-to-6 weeks, led the defense with 63 points (20g, 43a) last
The Lightning have taken three straight and four of the last six regular-
season meetings with New Jersey.
10/04 10:40:46 ET