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Devils Look To Get Back On Track Against Panthers

Posted by Don Melrose on 3/20/2013 7:13:46 PM

The New Jersey Devils are right there on the edge of the Eastern Conference playoff race. A date against the last-place team in the NHL should help them take a step in the right direction. The Devils will look to build on their strong home record when they host the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, with two key points on the line. The defending conference champions have struggled with consistency since starting netminder Martin Brodeur went down, and this is an excellent chance to get back on track with an important sports betting win at home.

Florida Panthers @ New Jersey Devils
Saturday March 23, 2013 – 7:00 PM ET
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
NHL Sportsbook Line: New Jersey – 150

The Panthers have also been without their starting goaltender Jose Theodore for more of the season, but even when he was available they struggled to keep goals out of their own net. Florida ranks dead-last in the NHL in goals allowed, and it’s the biggest reason why they sit in the Eastern Conference basement.

NHL Betting Preview: Florida Panthers

Allowing an average of 3.6 goals per game is an absolutely brutal mark, and injuries aren’t a big enough excuse for a team that just hasn’t played well enough together. Rookie Jacob Markstrom has been thrown in to the fire with the injury to Theodore, but he needs his teammates to be much more responsible at both ends of the ice to have any chance. Injuries to Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg have also hurt the Panthers, who are led in points by Tomas Kopecky with 19. Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau has been a rare bright spot with a team-leading 12 goals, but Florida ranks just 24th in the NHL in scoring with 2.4 goals per game.

NHL Betting Preview: New Jersey Devils

The Devils have played their best hockey on home ice, and while the injury to Brodeur has forced them to be even more responsible in their own end, Johan Hedberg has done enough to keep them in most games. One other problem this New Jersey team has not been able to overcome of late is its lack of goals, as it is averaging just 2.4 per game, one spot back of the Panthers for the 25th-ranked offense in the NHL. The ageless wonder Patrick Elias continues to produce with a team-leading 18 assists and 27 points, but Ilya Kovalchuk hasn’t been nearly productive enough considering his skill and opportunities, and David Clarkson has been mired in an extended goalless drought despite still leading the Devils with 11 goals.

NHL Betting Preview: Outlook & Pick

As much as New Jersey has struggled to score goals, a date with the lowly Panthers could be the perfect remedy to start lighting the lamp again. Kovalchuk and Clarkson are going to need to pick up their production to have any chance at making the playoffs, and it has to start in a must-win game against a Florida team that hasn’t been able to do anything right this online betting season.

NHL Betting Pick: New Jersey Devils

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