DAB Pregame: Hischier Returns as Well-Rested Devils Take on Yotes

The Devils look to extend their winning streak to three games tonight against the Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Match Overview

Tonight’s game will feature your New Jersey Devils, who currently own a 2-4-2 record, which puts them seventh in the Metropolitan Division, and the Arizona Coyotes, who own a 5-2-1 record, which puts them fifth in the Pacific Division.

The Devils are coming off an almost week-long break. But before then, they had two straight games while demonstrating stout defense, solid goaltending, and great special teams. This is the recipe for success the team must duplicate to continue in turning around their rough start. The Devils only gave up two goals over their wins while holding their opponents to 0-15 on the power play and scoring two power play goals themselves.

This is a complete-180 from the first six games of the season. Regarding the lineup, it seems as if Jesper Bratt, Connor Carrick, and Will Butcher will be the scratches. This means Nico Hischier will make his return to the lineup. It is also projected that Mackenzie Blackwood (2-1-2, .886 Sv%, 3.15 GAA) will get the nod between the pipes for the third consecutive game. 

The Arizona Coyotes are coming into tonight’s contest red hot, as they own a 5-1-0 record over their last six games. Over this stretch, they have scored three or more goals each time out besides last night’s 4-2 defeat on Long Island. So far this season, they own average special teams, as their penalty kill and power play rank 15th and 13th respectively. Led by strong goaltending the Coyotes will enter tonight’s game looking to start a new streak. As for who will be in between the pipes – given they played last night – expect Antti Raanta (1-0-1, 0.926 Sv%, 2.44 GAA) to get the nod. 

Tonight’s game will be at the Prudential Center and is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM.

Projected Devils Lines

Forwards

  • Hall/Hughes/Palmieri
  • Coleman/Zajac/Simmonds
  • Zacha/Hischier/Gusev
  • Wood/Rooney/Hayden

Defense

  • Severson/Subban
  • Greene/Vatanen
  • Mueller/Tennyson

Goalie

  • Blackwood
  • Schneider

Projected Coyotes Lines

Forwards

  • Keller/Stepan/Kessel
  • Garland/Dvorak/Schmaltz
  • Grabner/Richardson/Hinostroza
  • Crouse/Soderberg/Fischer

Defense

  • Ekman-Larsson/Demers
  • Chychrun/Goligoski
  • Capobianco/Lyubushkin

Goalie

  • Raanta
  • Kuemper
Forward Nico Hischier will make his much anticipated return to the lineup tonight. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

What/Who to Watch

  • As mentioned above, Hischier is slated to return and skate on the team’s third line. Many seemed confused by this as Hischier is – at the moment – the Devils’ most talented center. However, given he is coming back from injury, it is not a surprise. Also, keeping in mind the defensive liability that is Nikita Gusev, having Hischier and Pavel Zacha – two of the Devils’ best defensive forwards – along his side makes a ton of sense. It’ll be interesting to see how the trio gels together.
  • Another interesting aspect of tonight’s lineup is the scratches of both Jesper Bratt and Jesper Boqvist in favor of the Wood/Rooney/Hayden fourth line. It is no secret that this line is made up of the Devils’ two worst forwards on their roster (Rooney and Hayden). And that is why it confuses many to see the Jespers each out of the lineup. It’ll be interesting to see if the tradeoff of offense for grit and physicality is worth it in the end. 
  • The Devils have a tremendous issue in generating shot attempts at even strength. Per naturalstattrick.com, they rank dead last in the league with a CF//60 of only 44.83. This number is the lowest by nearly four whole points. The Coyotes are a team that does a good job in limiting their opponent in that category (53.76 CA/60, 11th in the league). They also have a great 5-on-5 save percentage of .944 (2nd in the league). It’ll be a tall task for the Devils to adjust their game in this area tonight. But they must try their best if they want to extend their winning streak to three.
  • The Coyotes have had a balanced attack to start the season. They have seven players who have recorded five or more points in their first nine games played. Of these players, Nick Schmaltz (3G, 6A) and Clayton Keller (7A) lead the way. It’ll be interesting to see how head coach John Hynes deploys his defenseman, given the Coyotes well-balanced offensive attack.

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

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