Versus Ottawa (AC)…The New Jersey Devils will dress a forward group tonight that could closely resemble their opening night roster, but not without moving some pieces around. Pavel Zacha will center Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri on the top line, while Marcus Johansson will move to his natural left wing and play on a line with Nico Hischier and Drew Stafford. Adam Henrique will also dress in tonight’s game and will likely be joined by Jesper Bratt and John Quenneville on his wings.
To counter the Devils, Ottawa will dress an experienced lineup that includes the likes of Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and Dion Phaneuf among others. This will be a good test for the younger Devils such as Bratt, Zacha, and Nico Hischier, who will be getting expanded roles for tonight’s game to see whether they ready to handle tougher competition once regular season games begin.
Versus New York (ML)…About 800 miles south of Prince Edward Island, the Devils are deploying a second lineup against the New York Islanders, a division foe they’re playing for the first time this preseason. Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood and Ken Appleby will compose the goaltending combo in PIE tonight, with Kinkaid expected to play the full 60 minutes. Compared to the lineup facing the Senators, the squad against New York is largely filled with AHL and bubble players vying to make the last cut.
While the squad playing in PEI has the more experienced forwards, the Brooklyn lineup features a more experienced defense corps with Ben Lovejoy, Damon Severson, John Moore, and Brian Strait. Since it appears likely the Devils season-opening roster will largely resemble what their lineup against the Senators, tonight’s matchup in Brooklyn should be considered a last chance for young prospects (and tryouts) like Jimmy Hayes, Miles Wood, Michael McLeod, Blake Speers, and Nick Lappin for making a case to be included on this season’s opening night lineup.
Who To Watch
Versus Ottawa (AC)…After performing well in his previous preseason games, Pavel Zacha moves up to the first line tonight to center Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri. Zacha has shown noticeable improvement this preseason, and will be rewarded for his strong play. The Senators will dress a pretty experienced lineup themselves, so Zacha will be drawing some of the toughest defensive assignments on the night. This will be a good barometer of where Zacha’s game currently is and if he performs well, he could see more time on the top line come the start of the regular season in two weeks.
Versus New York (ML)…This is a do-or-die scenario for many young Devils forwards, but the one player worth keeping an eye on is Joseph Blandisi. He’s enjoyed a productive preseason, where the 23-year old’s tallied multiple goals, points, and even performing well in the face-off dot. Blandisi had a rough preseason one year ago, and has even been impactful off the scoresheet in the preseason matchups he’s played. A big performance tonight could clinch a season-starting roster spot with the big team for Blandisi.
Keys To The Game
Versus Ottawa (AC)…The Devils are rolling out three lines with genuine scoring ability tonight. Although Ottawa’s defense will have some considerable experience, they’ll be without the best defenseman in the NHL- Erik Karlsson. Without him, their blueline takes a big hit and lacks the depth to make up for what they lose in not having their star defender. The Devils should find some decent matchups with their forward lines that lead to some quality scorng chances.
Versus New York (ML)…Going with a young inexperienced forward group, New Jersey’s defense and goaltending needs to hold their own tonight. With the Devils power play struggles this preseason, it’s likely these issues will spill into tonight’s game, especially considering how the team’s top power play assets are mostly playing in PEI tonight. The defense will be faced with defending against a deep Islanders offense, along with their hard-hitting defense corps. Simply put, goals will probably be hard to come by for the Devils, so the defense can’t afford any mishaps that result in early leads for the Islanders.
Where To Watch
NHL Network (Versus Ottawa)
MSG + (Versus New York)
When To Watch
6:00pm EST (Versus Ottawa)
7:00pm EST (Versis New York)