The Devils look to rebound tonight against Tampa after what was undoubtedly their worst loss of the season last night. The Devils only remain one point behind the Penguins for the final playoff spot in the East. However, Pittsburgh has three games at hand against New Jersey.
With the trade deadline just days away, a loss tonight could seal the Devils’ fate as sellers. Possible trade candidates, Lee Stempniak and David Schlemko, could be playing their final game as Devils as Ray Shero could choose to trade them away for draft picks and/or prospects.
The Lightning’s leading scorer, Nikita Kucherov, returns to lineup tonight after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. The Devils did not hold a morning skate, so any roster decisions will be made available when Hynes has media availability later this afternoon.
Cory Schneider…he was pulled after the first period in last night’s 6-1 defeat in Columbus although it was no fault of his. However, his numbers have slipped a bit recently. In his last six starts, his save percentage is just .888. The Devils have asked a lot of Schneider this season, and he’s been fantastic. Could the heavy workload be getting to him a bit? At a crucial juncture in the season, he’ll need to have a bounce back performance tonight.
Ben Bishop…he’s quietly having a great season for Tampa Bay. He’s 24-17-3 with a .923 save percentage and 2.13 goals against average. He has a .918 save percentage in his last 10 starts. In six career games against New Jersey, Bishop is 4-2 with a .946 save percentage and 1.46 goals against average. Expect a good game from him tonight.
Players to Watch
Reid Boucher…He’s slowly starting to come along for the Devils. He scored the Devils’ lone goal last night, and has 5 points in his last five games. Playing on a line with Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac will give him more of an opportunity to create scoring chances and be a scoring threat, which is what the Devils will need if they want to keep their playoff chances alive.
Victor Hedman/Anton Stralman…one of the best defensive pairings in the league, they average 22:51 and 22:21 TOI, respectively. They’re always on the ice against their opponent’s best players. For a team that struggles to score, the Devils will have to find ways to take advantage of their opportunities when Stralman and Hedman are off the ice.
What to Watch
Devils Power Play vs Tampa’s Penalty Kill…This goes without much explanation, but the Devils have been highly reliant on the power play to score goals. The Lightning have the 7th ranked PK. If the Devils are able to get a few power plays, they’ll need to take advantage of the chances they’re given.
How Will the Devils Respond After Last Night?…The Devils laid an egg in a must-win game last night against an opponent they should’ve beaten. Less than 24 hours after that defeat, how will the team respond? We should find out early on tonight.
When and Where to Watch
7PM on MSG+