DAB PREGAME: Banged Up Devils Look To Get Back On Track Vs. Kings

 

This will be the first of two matchups between the Devils and Kings this year. –Getty Images

 

Match Overview

Tonight’s game will feature the New Jersey Devils, who currently own a 16-9-4 record, which positions them fourth in the Metropolitan Division, and the Los Angeles Kings, who own a 20-8-3 record, good for first place in the Pacific Division.

The Devils are coming off a much needed two days of rest after dropping their previous two games against top tier Metropolitan Division opponents. The road for the Devils doesn’t get any easier as they are facing one of the Western Conference’s top teams. To add to the challenge, the Devils will be without Marcus Johansson, who suffered a bruised ankle blocking a shot in the Devils’ 5-2 defeat against the Rangers Saturday night. The task is tall, but the Devils must weather the storm tonight by relying on their gritty play and resilience they have shown on numerous occasions this season.

The Los Angeles Kings have surmounted themselves as one of the best hockey clubs in the league through the start of the season. This is due to their stellar defense which is led by Norris Trophy winning defenseman Drew Doughty. The Kings are allowing the fewest amount of goals per game (2.2) in the league and have the best penalty-kill in the NHL (88.4% success rate). Don’t let their defensive-prowess fool you, as they’re also a very good offensive team. With the resurgence of forward Dustin Brown (26 pts) and the continued great play of all-star center, Anze Kopitar (38 pts) the Kings rank 10th in the NHL in goals per game (3.1). They are a force to be reckon with in the NHL this year, and a perennial cup contender. The Devils certainly have their work cut out for them tonight.

Regarding personnel, the New Jersey Devils will be going with Cory Schneider in between the pipes after getting the night off against the Rangers Saturday night. Drew Stafford will draw back into the lineup for the injured Marcus Johansson while Steven Santini checks in for Ben Lovejoy. Dalton Prout will be the Devils’ other healthy scratch. For the Los Angeles Kings, they will still be without forwards Jeff Carter and Kyle Clifford who have both been out since October. All-star goaltender Jonathan Quick (15-8-1, 2.18 GAA, .930 Sv%) will be in net for the Kings tonight.

Projected Devils Lines

Hall-Hischier-Bratt
Wood-Zacha-Stafford
Gibbons-Zajac-Hayes
Coleman-Boyle-Noesen

Greene-Santini
Moore-Vatanen
Butcher-Severson

Schneider

Projected Kings Lines

Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown
Pearson-Shore-Toffoli
Gaborik-Mitchell-Lewis
Clifford-Jokinen-Brodzinski

Muzzin-Doughty
Macdermid-Martinez
Forbort-Folin

Quick

 

Cory Schneider will be making his 22nd start of the season this year. –Getty Images

 

What/Who to Watch

  • The Devils’ line combinations are certainty interesting tonight. It seems that John Hynes has opted to go with spreading his talent amongst four different lines. Devils beat writer Andrew Gross reported that Hynes will operate with the Hall-Hischier-Bratt line as his first line and play the following three based on their performance as the game goes on. This is an interesting tactic being imposed by John Hynes and many, including myself, may question it, but I’m going to leave the coaching up to the man that gets paid the big bucks.

 

  • As mentioned above, the Los Angeles Kings’ have the league’s best penalty kill, so if the Devils want to score tonight it must be at even-strength. Surprisingly, the Devils last nine goals have all been at even-strength, which is not necessarily a good thing in terms of their power-play, but the trend must continue tonight as the Kings are extremely stingy on the penalty kill.

 

  • Anze Kopitar is known for his great defensive play as a former Selke Trophy winner, but this year Kopitar has been tearing it up in all aspects of the game. Kopitar is currently third in the league in scoring with 16-goals and 22-assists so expect John Hynes to try to matchup his top defense pair against the Kopitar line whenever he gets the chance.

 

Tonight’s game can be seen on MSG+ at 7:00 PM.

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