national nightmare road trip comes to an end in Newark, New Jersey, today as our boys try and collect 2 points for just the second time since January 29 against the second best team in the Eastern Conference, the New Jersey Devils.*
* What a horrible way of looking at things... 1-1-4 in the last 6 will do that to ya...
In a fantastic subplot, today's game also features the dubious reunion of Claude Lemieux and one Brendan Shanahan. The two 40+ year-old wingers were teammates for just one season (1990-91), which was Lemieux's first with the Devils, and Shanahan's last - until now.
However, Lemieux and Shanahan would later be on opposite sides of one of the most fierce rivalries in modern hockey - the Detroit Red Wings vs. the Colorado Avalanche - for three complete seasons (1996-97 through 1998-99). I probably don't need to remind anyone about which team had the better run of things between those years...
Lemieux, of course, won two Stanley Cups for the Devils, in 1995 and in 2000, when he returned to the team for just that season. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1995.
Shanahan, on the other hand, married the ex-wife of his former linemate and one-time San Jose Shark, Craig Janney. Oh, and something about three Stanley Cups... Martin Brodeur would approve on all accounts, at any rate.
This will be the San Jose Sharks' second all-time visit to the new Prudential Center (aka "The Rock"), at which they have a 0-1-0 record (Thomas Greiss was in net opposite Martin Brodeur last February, for the record - I suffered that loss from the nosebleeds of that half-empty arena). In net today for the Devils will be Scott Clemmensen, who is looking to extend his two-game shutout streak. Expect Evgeni Nabokov in net for Team Teal - his absence last year could be attributed to the back-to-back scheduling (vs. Philadelphia the next day).
Since the 2000-01 season, San Jose's record against the Devils is 1-3-2. All three losses were road games for the Sharks. Definitely room for improvement...
Prediction nonetheless = Sharks win 4-2. First goal as a Shark for Claude Lemieux, first goal of the season for Douglas Murray, and two goals from our first line trio of Marleau-Thornton-The Gooch. Expect goals from either Brian Rolston, Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, or Brendan Shanahan (all left wingers, interestingly). Lemieux will receive a standing ovation from all 200 fans in attendance, including Greg Wyshynski.
Should my prediction utterly fail, just remember this = immediately after losing to the Devils last year, the Sharks had points in TWENTY STRAIGHT GAMES. Does lightning strike twice?*
* Probably not - we outscored the Lightning 10-1 in two games this season... but I digress.