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Game: Florida Panthers at New Jersey Devils Apr 24 2012 7:35PM
Prediction: New Jersey Devils
Grade: Winner (100)
Reason: I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. The opening round of the NHL playoffs have provided a reminder that teams in "must win" situations don't always win. That said, I feel that the Devils, who are currently in a must win spot, will find a way to win this game. After Monday's practice, NJ sniper Ilya Kovalchuk had this to say: "We put ourselves in this situation and so we just have to look at it one game at a time. It's a huge game for us and I think we were sharp today. We did what we wanted to and we're ready to go." Kovalchuk went on to say: "I think all of us, we have to shoot the puck more and we have to create more traffic. We don’t want Theodore to feel comfortable in net. You know when we have traffic in front of him, he gives up a lot of rebounds. We just have to take advantage of it." Florida coach Kevin Dineen know the Devils figure to be desperate. He noted: "The tempo always seems to be set right at the start of the game. So I would expect nothing less than that desperation mode for a team that's down by one and also wants to win the series." Even Panthers' center Steven Weiss was quoted as saying: "We're expecting their best hockey, them to be desperate, all those things..." The Devils have a number of stats in their favor. They're 24-14 (+12.1) when playing an opponent which defeated them in the last game and 13-9 (+3.8) when off a loss by two or more goals. While the Devils are also 13-9 (+2.8) when playing with two day's rest in between games, the Panthers are only 5-9 (-3) when playing with two day's rest in between games. Note that with their Game 4 loss here, the Panthers are also just 6-14 (-6.8) the last 20 times that the played a road game with an O/U line of five. I played on the Devils the only other time that they were trailing in this series - they won 4-0. This one may not be that "easy" but I expect the end result to be the same. *8