The New Jersey Devils come into this one following a 5-4 loss at the hands of the Dallas Stars. The Devils got off to a terribly slow start in that one and even though they battled back to tie, they just couldn’t get over the hump. Things should get a little easier tonight, however, as they face a Coyotes team that is 17-21-2, with a 7-12-1 record on home ice. Arizona ranks 21st in shot attempts per game (30.6), goals for per game (2.48), and 13th in goals against per game (2.88). Expect this one to be a more low scoring game, which may be just what the doctor ordered after the last contest.
Keys to the Game
Puck possession… After getting the opening goal, the Devils were completely dominated for nearly two periods by the Stars. New Jersey got caught on their heels and just couldn’t find a way to recover. But facing a much less potent offense, they can’t allow that to happen. The Coyotes are a very young team, which means the longer they are stuck in their own end, the more likely they are to make a mistake in defensive zone coverage and open up some scoring lanes. Pucks along the half boards and rotations behind the net are some of the best ways to get opposing defenders chasing the puck and open looks from the slot.
Strong goalie play… Coach Hynes is showing a vote of confidence in goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood by going right back to him tonight following a tough outing against the Stars. The score does not truly represent the play of Blackwood in that game, but rather the defensive coverage and poor start the team had as a whole. Blackwood still made 35 saves and was largely the reason why New Jersey was able to be in a position to come back in the first place. This will be a true test to see now just how Blackwood will respond to adversity.
New Jersey (Unofficial: Be sure to check our social media pages before puck drop for confirmation)
Bratt – Hischier – Palmieri
Wood – Zajac – Coleman
Pietila – Zacha – Noesen
Boyle – Seney – Stafford
Greene – Severson
Vatanen – Santini
Butcher – Lovejoy
Richard Panik – Derek Stepan – Clayton Keller
Alex Galchenyuk – Brad Richardson – Vinnie Hinostroza
Lawson Crouse – Nick Cousins – Josh Archibald
Conor Garland – Mario Kempe – Christian Fischer
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Jakob Chychrun – Alex Goligoski
Kevin Connauton – Ilya Lyubushkin
Players to Watch
Clayton Keller… One of the lone bright spots this season, Keller leads the team with 29 points and is the driving force for the Coyotes’ offense. At just 20 years old, Keller plays big-time forward minutes and also helps drive their top power play alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Keller has great speed down the wall but also is very shifty in open ice.
Blake Coleman… Throwing in a bonus player to watch for this game, as Coleman is set up to bounce back following a tough game in his home state. It might have just been the added pressure of playing in front of all of his family/friends, but Coleman was off his game in Dallas. His possession numbers were well below his season average, and the -3 rating isn’t the norm for him either. Facing a team with a weak power play, look for this special teams specialist to apply the pressure and get back to his normal ways. A tough rebound goal in this one doesn’t seem that out of the question.
That weekend winning feeling 🚨 pic.twitter.com/4Pc1njAcz5
— Blake Coleman (@BColes25) October 27, 2018
Where to Watch
Gila River Arena 9:00 p.m.
Betting Lines (All info taken from William Hill)
New Jersey +1.5 goal spread, +100 money line
Arizona -1.5 goal spread, -120 money line
Over/Under 6 goals
The Devils showed some grit coming back against Dallas, and I can’t see them getting off to that slow of a start again. Predicting a shutout is a tough sell, but Arizona has scored only one goal in three of their last four games. And I expect Blackwood to want to rebound in a big way. Look for the Devils to come out aggressive in this one and potentially put it away early. New Jersey takes this one 3-0.