Having gained 5 out of a possible 6 points in their last three contests, the Devils travel to Toronto for their first matchup of the season against the Maple Leafs. This marks the first time that Lou Lamoriello will go up against his former team since leaving New Jersey for the Maple Leafs’ GM position.
Lamoriello was quite candid in an interview with Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record saying “If you don’t have feelings, there’s something wrong with you…” “…You don’t kid yourself. There’s certainly a nostalgia involved that will never leave, should never leave. It’s no different at Providence College. That’s part of life. … If you’ve had positive feelings and positive memories, why wouldn’t you (keep them)?”
The Leafs are without Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer, so Garret Sparks will get the start in net. Jiri Tlusty made the trip to Toronto, but it seems unlikely that he’ll play tonight. Travis Zajac did not make the trip to Toronto and will miss his 3rd straight game with an upper-body injury. Nazem Kadri missed practiced on Monday due to illness, but Mike Babcock said he’ll be fine and will play tonight. After scoring just 1 goal in his first nineteen games, Kadri has 4 in his last eight games.
Cory Schneider…he’s posted a .920 save percentage or better in 13 of his last 15 starts while having a .931 save percentage during that span. He’s been one of the biggest reasons for the Devils success early on this season. He is 4-0-2 with with a .942 sv% and 1.60 goals against average in six games against the Leafs in his career.
Garret Sparks…with Bernier and Reimer injured, Sparks has been Toronto’s starter since getting called up from the AHL a little over a week ago. This will be just his fourth start of the season, but he’s played well so far. He’s 2-1-0 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.33 goals against average.
Players to Watch
Mike Cammalleri…he was named one of the NHL’s three stars of the week posting 4 goals and 3 assists in three games. Cammalleri is off to one of the best starts of his career and is on pace to finish with 91 points on the year. He’d be the first Devil to finish with 90+ points since Zach Parise had 94 in 2008-09. He’ll look to continue to add to his totals tonight in Toronto.
Nazem Kadri…as mentioned earlier, Kadri posted just 1 goal in his first 19 games while only shooting 1.2%, but he has 4 goals on 20% shooting in his last 8 games (per Jonas Siegel). The Leafs don’t have the most dangerous lineup, but Kadri playing well gives the Devils something to keep an eye on throughout tonight’s matchup.
Keys to the Game.
Score Early…The Devils are 8-0-1 this season when scoring the first goal. They’re facing a young goaltender who doesn’t have much NHL experience. It’ll be important to make him feel uncomfortable early and make the Leafs earn a come from behind victory.
Don’t Sit Back…After taking a 3-1 lead, the Devils got a little complacent in Sunday’s matchup against Florida. From that point, they were out attempted 29-9. If they manage to grab an early lead, they can’t sit back or otherwise, they may not be as fortunate as they were Sunday night.
Where to Watch
When to Watch