For the second time in three nights, the New Jersey Devils will face off against their division rivals the New York Islanders. In their first matchup earlier this week, the Isles came on top in a 4-3 triumph over a Devils lineup that mainly comprised of fringe and AHL-bound players. Both teams are expected to deploy very different-looking squads for tonight’s contest. This will be New York’s third matchup in as many nights, so the vast majority of the players they have in tonight won’t be from last night’s team that won a 3-2 overtime victory against the New York Rangers. A win tonight would give the Isles their third consecutive preseason victory, and second against the Devils. This is New Jersey’s second-to-last preseason matchup before playing their finale against the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
The Devils are going with a more veteran-savvy lineup tonight, and are keeping some considerable line combinations intact. Their first and second forward units are comprised of Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, and Beau Bennett (first line), Mike Cammalleri, Travis Zajac, and Kyle Palmieri (second line). Both lines have shown strong signs of chemistry in previous matchups this preseason, and it’s clear that Coach Hynes is making a statement that this Devils team he is forming will have an identifiable offensive core. On defense, highly-touted prospect Steve Santini is getting an opportunity with Andy Greene on the top-pair, while French defenseman Yohann Auvitu who has five assists this preseason, will return to the lineup. Newly signed defender Kyle Quincey will also make his preseason (and Devils) debut. Goaltender Cory Schneider is expected to play the majority of tonight’s game as well.
Who to watch
Steve Santini…Interesting how Santini is playing on the top-pairing with captain Andy Greene, while third-year defender Damon Severson appears to be sitting out. This isn’t to provoke any speculation beyond the notion that Coach Hynes is giving Santini a long hard look this training camp, and is providing him with a key opportunity to showcase his talents if he truly spends the majority of the game playing alongside Greene.
Matt Barzal…He registered two points the first time these two teams met this preseason, and looks to be getting another chance in a top-six role no-less. One of the biggest critiques Islanders fans have had (at least from what I’ve heard) is that had coach Jack Capuano is very restrictive on the playing time he awards rookies and young players on his roster. Barzal had considerable power play time last game, and expected to play in between veterans Andrew Ladd and PA Parenteau tonight.
What to watch
Special teams…Going into tonight, the Devils have converted on four of 23 power play opportunities this preseason (17.39% conversion rate), which is considerably different from the numbers last year’s team had on the man-advantage. Granted this is the preseason and the Devils have used completely different lineups each night, it would be encouraging to see the Devils connect on whatever power play opportunities they get tonight, while continuing their solid play on the penalty kill.
Where to watch
When to watch