The Devils are on a losing streak. Well, if you count one loss as such, which Jacques Lemaire probably does, then yes. Especially off a 4-1 disappointment post-Christmas to Ovechkin and the Caps. All kidding aside, the Devs are atop the Atlantic, trailing only Washington by one for most in the conference with the Blackhawks leading the way with 55. Two ahead of Jersey, San Jose and Pitt. In Good Company was a decent flick starring Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and stunning Scarlett Johansson. That's the team that plays in Newark tonight versus Kovalchuk and Hotlanta at the top of the hour.
Good news for New Jersey as they get David Clarkson back tonight. He missed a month due to a fractured right leg. Before the third-year right wing went down, he was having a breakout season with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 23 games. That includes three power play goals, two deciders along with 39 penalty minutes from the gritty 25 year-old Toronto native. Clarkie is a solid player who adds a physical element to the Devils. The best part is he can play any role. Whether it's second line or checking, the Randy McKay clone who was a huge lacrosse star brings great energy. Now, he returns to a club that boasts an impressive 26-9-1 mark into
Atlanta can score goals as evidenced by Kovalchuk, Nik Antropov, Maxim Afinogenov and Rich Peverley along with dangerous rover Zach Bogosian. You can't get into a run n' gun with them. Something that the Devs kinda did falling behind 3-1 after one in which Hotlanta chased MB30. Figure Marty to be sharp coming off a subpar game in which he permitted an odd softie that deflected off Mike Mottau and his glove.
As for Clarkson, he replaces Russian rook Vladimir Zharkov (6 A in 13 GP) in the lineup with D Matt Corrente back down to Lowell. Lemaire had top freshman Nicklas Bergfors playing with Rob Niedermayer and Jay Pandolfo in an attempt to improve the young Swede's defensive game. Perhaps Clarkson starts with Patrik Elias and resurgent Brian Rolston. Especially if ZZ Popp is back together based on yesterday's practice. Whereever he plays, a good team just got better.
UPDATE: Looks like he'll start on fourth line with Lemaire opting to keep Dean McAmmond between Elias and Rolston.