While much has been made of the New Jersey’s uncustomary rocky start to the season with only one win in their first six games, the Devils are not about to sneak up on the Canadiens. Thanks to their well-documented history of success at the Bell Centre, the welcome that awaits the Devils will be anything but warm.
“We all know how good a team this is,” affirmed Maxim Lapierre. “They always play us tough and are at their best when they come into our building. They for sure want to bounce back starting tonight, but that doesn’t change what we need to do which is just focus on our game.”
Getting pucks past Martin Brodeur would be a good start. Always at his best when playing in his own backyard, the St. Leonard native casts a much larger shadow than his current .887 save percentage suggests.
Equally averse to writing off Brodeur, Jeff Halpern was quick to point out that the 2010-11 season remains an embryo at only three weeks and counting.
“At this point of the season, it’s tough to judge any player let alone a team,” warned the veteran center. “They’ve had the same core group of players for a long time and they’ve had success together as a team. They’ve got guys who can score and this will be a good test for us. This is the NHL; games are always going to be tight and this one will be no different.”
If the Habs do keep the Devils at the one-win mark, it might be because they followed some sound advice.
“The key against the Devils is to play well defensively,” said Martin, who knows all about the firepower the Devils have, including Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. “They’ve got a dangerous offense when you look up and down that lineup and we’re going to have to play smart and work hard in our own end.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
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