It’s certainly not time to panic, but the Devils need to get back in the win column and soon. An afternoon matchup against the Florida Panthers is as good of a place as any to start. After starting 4-0-0, the Devils have dropped to 4-2-1 courtesy of two rough losses to the Avalanche and the Flyers, while also losing in OT to the Predators in a game they really should have won. Florida comes in with a 2-3-3 record and is clearly missing the presence of goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Keys to the game
— John Smith (@NJviDs) October 25, 2018
Special teams will continue to play a huge role for the Devils moving forward. New Jersey has a power play goal in each of their first seven games and will need their top firepower to keep producing while the depth scoring isn’t there. Florida comes in ranked dead last in penalty kill, with just a success rate of 66.7%.
On the flip side, the Devils have the 8th ranked power play, converting at 29%. The Devils have also been great on the penalty kill, but unlike last year, they can’t seem to get a shorthanded goal. That’s a trend that may end this afternoon (keep an eye on Coleman), considering Florida is ranked 21st on the power play, converting just 16.7% of opportunities.
Puck possession is also going to be very critical. The Devils and Panthers are third and fourth respectively in shots against, with each team giving up just under 28 shots per game. Look for the top line on each team to really attempt to assert themselves in this one.
Nico Hischier comes in with the highest Corsi rating on the current roster with 54.1%, and Taylor Hall follows closely with 53.4%. Neither player has exploded yet, but Nico got it started with a couple of goals vs Nashville and will certainly be looking to build on that outing. The top line for Florida will garner most of the attention, but the second line of Huberdeau-Trocheck-Malgin provide just as much if not more pressure.
Taylor Hall – Nico Hischier – Kyle Palmieri
Miles Wood – Pavel Zacha – Jean-Sebastian Dea
Blake Coleman – Travis Zajac – Stefan Noesen
Brian Boyle- Kevin Rooney – Joey Anderson*
Mirco Mueller – Sammi Vatanen
Andy Greene – Damon Severson
Will Butcher – Eric Gryba
*Marcus Johannson is ill and will not play. Joey Anderson will play in his place.
Evgenii Dadonov – Aleksander Barkov – Nick Bjugstad
Jonathan Huberdeau – Vincent Trocheck – Denis Malgin
Frank Vatrano – Jared McCann – Mike Hoffman
Troy Brouwer – Juho Lammikko – Colton Sceviour
Keith Yandle – Alexander Petrovic
Mike Matheson – Aaron Ekblad
MacKenzie Weegar – Bogdan Kiselevich
Players to watch
Keith Kinkaid…. Coming off three straight losses, the easiest way to break the slide is to pitch a shutout. Kinkaid most likely isn’t very happy with his lack of consistency in against the Predators and will look for a big rebound performance against another tough opponent. Florida can tilt the ice and really keep opponents stuck in their own end for long stretches, so the more times Keith is able to cover the puck the better. A few saves like the one below won’t hurt, either.
— John Smith (@NJviDs) October 25, 2018
Where to watch:
Prudential Center @ Noon
MSG – pregame begins at 11:30
Fox Sports Florida
New Jersey: -1.5 goal spread, -139 money line
Florida: +1.5 goal spread, +115 money line
This game is a very important matchup for both teams early in the season, so expect a very tight checking game. The Devils got their legs moving and skated very well on Thursday, so look for that to continue and for the Devils to earn their fair share of power play opportunities. The firepower of the top line, along with a potential shorthanded goal, New Jersey gets back on track and wins this one 3-1.
To make the game more interesting, we are playing today’s game on www.statementgames.com for the chance to win cool prizes! Our two lock statements are:
Taylor Hall + Kyle Palmieri + Nico Hischier OVER 0.5 goals.
Florida Panthers UNDER 33.5 shots.