After splitting a pair of preseason contests against the New York Rangers, the Devils are getting set to face off against another divisional rival in the New York Islanders. The Isles are currently 1-3-0 this preseason, and are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday. New Jersey is 3-2-0 going into tonight, and will deploy a lineup comprised of players who are on the fringe of making the final roster. Most of New Jersey’s NHL regulars both up front and on the backend aren’t playing tonight, so it’s clear that the coaching staff is putting the players of tonight’s squad in a very opportune position to step up and make it easier for Coach Hynes to round out his roster, while continuing to give some players a long hard look. Tonight is going to be a make-or-break game for a lot of Devils players. A strong performance will definitely buy them more time or even secure them a roster spot, while a lackluster effort could diminish the chances of some to survive the final cuts. The Islanders appear to be manning a more veteran-savvy lineup for tonight’s game with players that are most likely to make up their final roster going into the regular season. Having said that, they have a solid mix of established veterans like Andrew Ladd and Travis Hamonic, some of the organization’s top-end prospects like Josh Ho-Sang and Matt Barzal, along with notable PTO’s (and former New Jersey Devils) like Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier, both of whom are expected to play on the same line tonight. After sitting out Saturday’s contest for precautionary purposes, Cory Schneider is expected to start in goal for the Devils tonight and play the entire game, while Thomas Greiss and Christopher Gibson will dress for the Islanders.
Who to watch
Nick Lappin…He scored two goals in New Jersey’s first preseason game against the Flyers, and registered four shots in his last matchup when the Devils lost to the Rangers 3-1. Needless to say, Lappin has stood out in every game he’s appeared in this preseason, and appears to be getting top-six playing time tonight on a projected line with Joseph Blandisi and Miles Wood. Considering the roster’s need for another top-six right wing, Coach Hynes is clearly giving him a long look, and is providing him with a pivotal opportunity tonight to show he belongs on the Devils roster going into the regular season.
Josh Ho-Sang…He may very well have been the steal of the steal of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Despite the promise surrounding him, a lot of teams passed on Ho-Sang because of his attitude and off-ice antics. This became apparent when he was sent home early in 2015 by the Islanders at the very beginning of training camp. A year later, Ho-Sang appears to have turned a new leaf, and is having a very strong camp, following encouraging performance in the OHL last season. Like Lappin, Ho-Sang is slated to have a top-six role in tonight’s Islanders lineup, where he’ll have that same opportunity to prove to the Islanders coaching staff that he can play at the NHL level.
What to watch
Who steps up…Like I mentioned earlier, tonight’s Devils lineup is specifically designed for the Devils bubble players of this year’s training camp roster to separate themselves from the vast group of projected roster cuts that are destined to start the season in the AHL or return to the CHL. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who scores the most goals or tallies the most points, rather the one that plays their role the most effectively. Any player on the Devils four lines or three defensive pairings can step up in tonight, even if it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the scoresheet in any way. Who that player or players turn out to be remains to be seen.
Where to watch
When to watch