DAB Pregame: Devils Face First True Test of 2017-2018 Season

 

The Devils are coming off a commanding 6-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. –Getty Images

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Matchup Overview

Tonight’s game will feature two teams that have combined for a total of 29 goals in five games thus far. The matchup will feature your New Jersey Devils who have jumped out to a 2-0-0 start, and Toronto Maple Leafs, who currently hold a 3-0-0 record. The game will be held in Toronto and begin at approximately 7:30 PM.

 

On the Devils side of things….The Devils have drawn league-wide attention with their fast start. Much like the Leafs, New Jersey is relying on young talents like Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Will Butcher to orchestrate their early success. As expected, Cory Schneider will make his third start of the season. Kyle Palmieri is expected to make his return after a one-game absence from a lower-body injury, however forward Drew Stafford is expected to miss his second straight matchup due to an injury suffered the same game.

 

On the Maple Leafs side of things….The Toronto Maple Leafs (which may surprise many) have gotten out to even a faster start than the Devils. Led by second-year superstar Auston Matthews, the Leafs already have lopsided victories over the Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, and most recently an overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Maple Leafs offense has found the back of the net 19 times in their first three games, however, their defense has already given up 10 goals. It’s reported that goaltender Frederick Andersen will be in between the pipes for Toronto tonight. Through three games Andersen has a 3-0-0 record, a 3.28 GAA, and .892 SV%.

 

Projected Devils Lines (Subject to change)

Hall-Zacha-Palmieri

Johansson-Hischier-Bratt

Wood-Henrique-Hayes

Noesen-Coleman-Gibbons

Greene-Severson

Moore-Butcher

Mueller-Santini

Schneider

After a strong preseason, Steven Santini has struggled thus far this year. –Getty Images

What & Who to Watch

  • It may be hard to pinpoint a weakness associated with a team that’s collectively outscored their opponents 19-10, but behold there may be one. The Maple Leafs have had to kill a league-high 17-power plays, which they’ve done successfully 14 times. Although Toronto has been successful on the penalty kill, one category the Devils have been thriving in is the power play. If Toronto continues their early habits, the Devils might just be able to capitalize.
  • One of the things Ray Shero has preached since the day he has arrived as Devils’ general manager is speed. Finally, this year it seems he’s accomplished what he set out to do. However, much like the Devils, Toronto also relies on speed for their success. With the likes of Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, and William Nylander (just to mention a few) the Leafs are one of the quickest teams in the NHL. It’ll be interesting to see if the Devils’ newfound speed can match up with a team that’s built their success on fast-paced play.
  • For the third straight game defensemen Steven Santini and Mirco Mueller are expected to be paired together. While paired, the two endured nothing but success during the preseason, generating numerous scoring chances and suppressing their opponents. Through the first two games this year however, the pairing has struggled. They’ve combined for a +33/-68 in terms of shot attempts, which is very disappointing. Hopefully this pairing can figure it out and return to the form they were in during preseason, if not look for John Hynes to address this situation.

 

Tonight’s game can be seen on MSG at 7:30 PM.

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