The New Jersey Devils look to even things up against the Columbus Blue Jackets on home ice this afternoon. This will be the first of four games in which the Devils will be wearing their Heritage jerseys. This time the tables have turned a bit, as Columbus will be playing this one on the road as the second of a back-to-back. The Devils will have to try and create some more consistent possession time against a very strong defensive club if they want a chance in this one.
Keys to the Game
Puck battles… In a game where the opponent is coming in after just playing the day before, the Devils will have to make them earn every inch of ice. Strong puck battles along the half boards, tight checking in the neutral zone, and consistent forecheck pressure is the recipe for success in this one. Jump on their tired legs early and don’t give them a chance to settle in.
Top Line… The Hall-Hischier-Palmieri line combined for 9 points against the Ottawa Senators and really took over the game. In this type of a matchup, your best players need to play their best. It sounds pretty simple, but that top line is really the driving force of New Jersey’s offense.
New Jersey (unofficial, be sure to check our social media before puck drop for updated line combos)
Hall – Hischier – Palmieri
Wood – Zajac – Coleman
Quenneville – Zacha – Bratt
Boyle – Seney – Stafford
Greene – Severson
Vatanen – Santini
Butcher – Lovejoy
Panarin – Dubois – Atkinson
Foligno – Wennberg – Duclair
Bjorkstrand – Jenner – Anderson
Hannikainen – Dubinsky – Nash
Werenski – Jones
Murray – Nuttivaara
Harrington – Savard
Players to Watch
Taylor Hall… Sure it may be the low hanging fruit, but Hall has really been skating well and is coming off of a four-point game. He now has 37 points in 32 games, a better pace than he was on last season. Look for him to show his speed once again in this matinee matchup as he did in the clip below.
— NHL (@NHL) December 22, 2018
Pierre-Luc Dubois… Centering one of the more dynamic lines in hockey, Dubois is the middleman who gets lost at times. He comes in with 31 points in 35 games, including four points in his last two outings. And having Panarin and Atkinson as your wingers really can make things easy. If Dubois is held in check that will mean great things for the Devils in stopping that dangerous top line.
Where to watch
Prudential Center 12:30pm
Betting Lines (all info taken from DraftKings Sportsbook)
New Jersey +1.5 goal spread, -103 money line
Columbus -1.5 goal spread, -117 money line
Over/Under 5.5 goals
The Devils were able to keep it close in their last meeting and were unable to get a fortunate bounce. Home ice has been different this year for the Devils. And mix that in with having fresh legs and I like New Jersey to pull out a much-needed victory today. Devils win 3-2.