12/30/15 Devils vs. Senators Preview

Sens:Devs (Andre Ringuette:Getty Images)

Schneider returns between the pipes tonight against Ottawa. (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Overview

After completing the 3rd period comeback against Carolina last night, the Devils travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators in the back end of a back-to-back. Ottawa, who also played last night, is coming off a 7-3 defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins. The Devils come into tonight’s game just a point behind Ottawa for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

Despite what Ottawa’s record may say, the team has been quite poor at even strength. Their 45.9% possession rate is 2nd worst in the NHL (only Colorado is worse), as is their scoring chance for  percentage and they have some of the worst shot differential rates in the league. Aside from Erik Karlsson, they carry a weak set of defensemen. A big reason for Ottawa’s success early on has been their goaltending. Their even strength save percentage is .933 and Craig Anderson’s play has been a big reason for that.

Projected Lines

New Jersey

Cammalleri/Zajac/Palmieri

Tlusty/Henrique/Kennedy

Matteau/Kalinin/Stempniak

Farnham/Gionta/Tootoo

 

Greene/Moore

Schlemko/Larsson

Merrill/Severson

 

Schneider

Ottawa

Hoffman/Zibanejad/Ryan

Smith/Turris/Stone

Dziurzynski/Pageau/Chiasson

Prince/McCormick/Neil

 

Methot/Karlsson

Wiercioch/Borowiecki

Cowen/Wideman

 

Hammond

Goaltending Matchup

Cory Schneider…after getting the night off, he returns between the pipes tonight. He comes into tonight’s game looking to bounce back after giving up 3 goals on 25 shots against Carolina on Saturday night. Schneider is 15-10-5 on the year with a .924 save percentage and 2.17 goals against average. He’s 4-1-1 in his career against Ottawa with a .941 save percentage and 1.61 goals against average.

Andrew Hammond…He’ll most likely get the start tonight after Craig Anderson played last night in Boston. Hammond is 2-2-2 on the year with a .925 save percentage and a 2.47 goals against average. If he does start, it’ll be his second against the Devils this season.

Players to Watch

Erik Karlsson (Phillip MacCallum:Getty Images)

Erik Karlsson has been the clear front-runner for the Norris Trophy this season (Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Erik Karlsson…the clear runaway winner for the Norris Trophy, and even a possible Hart finalist, Karlsson is having one of the greatest seasons a defensemen has had in quite some time. Ottawa’s shot differentials with Karlsson on and off ice are remarkable. His importance to this team is unquestionable. Without him, Ottawa could be sitting at the bottom of the standings.

Kyle Palmieri…he’s the hottest forward on the Devils as of late. He has 3 goals and 1 assist in his last four games. He’s already set a career for goals in a season and will just continue to add to his totals as the year goes on. Last night marks the first time he skated with Mike Cammalleri and Travis Zajac as the Devils top line. Hynes continued to mix and match lines in the 3rd period, but no matter where Palmieri played, he was with the team’s top scorers.

Keys to the Game

Contain Karlsson…this is much easier said then done, especially when Karlsson is logging 30-35 minutes of ice time, as he did last night against Boston. He has 6 points in his last 5 games and is averaging just over a point a game. Limiting the damaged caused by him will be crucial to securing the Devils first set of back-to-back wins since mid-November.

Stay Aggressive…Ottawa has given up the most shot attempts at even strength in the league to this point in the season. Even though the Devils don’t generate many shot attempts themselves, they should be able to create a good amount of scoring chances against an Ottawa team that gets heavily outshot on a regular basis.

Where and When to Watch

7:30 PM on MSG+

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