The Devils May Hand the Penguins A Surprising Advantage for Tomorrow Afternoon’s Game

by Stephanie Lewark

After two games, the Penguins are still looking for their first win in their new home at the CONSOL Energy Center. They won’t get another opportunity for that until Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs as they’re heading out on the road to New Jersey where they take on Brodeur and the rest of the Devils at the Prudential Center Monday afternoon (it will also mark the return of defenseman Paul Martin to his old home since signing his five-year deal with the Penguins). So it’s quite possible their first win could be on the road.

2010-11 Pittsburgh Penguins (S. Lewark / THW)

2010-11 Pittsburgh Penguins (S. Lewark / THW)

Interestingly enough, both the Devils and the Penguins are winless after playing two games which could prove to be the least of New Jersey’s problems starting out this season. It appears as though Ilya Kovalchuk’s pricey signing over the summer may be haunting them throughout the rest of the season in ways they may not have expected.

According to Tom Gulitti of “Fire & Ice,” the Devils may be short three forwards going into the game Monday afternoon without the ability to replace them due to salary cap issues.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Devils might have to play Monday afternoon’s game against the Penguins with fewer than the maximum 18 skaters because of injuries to Anton Volchenkov (broken nose) and Brian Rolston (lower body).

And it’s almost guaranteed that they will be without left wing Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. Instigating a fight in the final five minutes carries an automatic one-game suspension.

With Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond expected to be suspended, it’s possible the team will have to play with nine forwards because it doesn’t have the salary cap space to add anyone to the roster right now.

I never really believed that signing Kovalchuk for such a steep price would ever turn out to be worth it for the Devils (or any team for that matter) and as the season moves on, the organization will only become more aware of just how big a price it actually was having to deal with this type of situation so soon after the season’s start; it’s not likely to be the last time this season.

The CONSOL (S. Lewark / THW)

The CONSOL (S. Lewark / THW)

Despite how the situation plays out as the puck drops tomorrow afternoon, I’m hoping Pittsburgh will take advantage of the opportunity to regroup and play the hockey they know how to play so they can build on the win they’ll hopefully earn against New Jersey in order to return home and get that first win at the CONSOL under their belts.