DAB Pregame: Devils Look To Get Back On Track

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Matchup Overview

The Devils lost both matchups to the Hawks last season in overtime. -Getty Images

After going 1-1-1 in what could only be described as a relatively uninspiring home stand, the New Jersey Devils are returning back on the road as they prepare to face the Chicago Blackhawks. While the Devils hang on their division lead by a thread with their 10-4-2 record, Chicago is off to a relatively slow start this season. Granted it’s still very early, the Hawks currently dwell around the playoff bubble at 8-7-2. Going into tonight, the Devils brandish a 5-1-1 road record, despite losing their last two away games. Chicago hasn’t particularly thrived in either playing scenario and like the Devils, go into tonight having lost two of their last three matchups.

Center Pavel Zacha has sat out the last two games, and there’s been no indication whether or not that will change. New Jersey’s defense combinations seem to change on a regular basis, however if any lineup changes occur on the blue line, it’ll likely involve swapping Mueller out for one of Ben Lovejoy or Dalton Prout. Due to the back-to-back, Keith Kinkaid is tonight’s likely starter for the Devils. Kinkaid goes into tonight with a 3-1-1 record on the season. His last start was New Jersey’s 5-4 shootout loss to Calgary, which he came out of with a 2.88 GAA and .903 save percentage on the year.

 

Players To Watch

Keith Kinkaid is looking to get the Devils back on track after snapping a four-game winless streak last night. -Getty Images

Nico Hischier…Although he hasn’t scored in nine games, Nico’s assist last night was his fourth point in five games. His production has been respectably steady, and it’s worth pointing out that eight of Nico’s 11 points this season (2G 9A) came on the road. Hischier does seem due to snap his goal drought, and has been getting points in bunches this season.

Keith Kinkaid…After his volatile showing earlier this week, Kinkaid should be lavishing at the opportunity for a redemptive performance. All factors considered, Kinkaid has held his own in net and been a very reliable backup this season. One of Kinkaid’s biggest demeanors is his rebound control, which especially showed in the game versus Calgary. Although Chicago has been a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of scoring, they average some of the highest shot totals in the league, and have all the right assets to capitalize on rebounds.

 

Keys To The Game

Edge on the road…? As mentioned earlier, the Devils go into tonight’s matchup with a 5-1-1 road record. To delve further in their performance away from the Rock, 29 of New Jersey’s 52 goals scored came on the road this season, along with surrendering 21 of their 48 goals against. These numbers alone indicate the Devils have played slightly better in away games this season. I mentioned earlier how the Hawks haven’t particularly thrived in either of these playing scenarios, which could prove advantageous for New Jersey.

Continuing Power Play Woes…Kyle Palmieri’s game-winning goal last night was New Jersey’s first power play tally in 13 attempts. Despite going into tonight with the seventh-best power play in the league, New Jersey hasn’t been particularly productive on the man-advantage, and their underlying numbers in these situations are very polarizing. New Jersey has converted 12 times on the power play this season, only two of which were scored in away games. Throw in Chicago having the fifth-best penalty kill going into tonight’s game, and it’s safe to say New Jersey is facing some stiff odds if they go up a man.

 

Where To Watch

MSG + (Local)

NBCSCH (Chicago)

 

When To Watch

7:00pm EST

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