DAB Pregame: Devils Set For First Division Battle Of The Season

The Devils get set for their first division battle of the season as they take on Alex Ovechkin and co. tonight at The Rock (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Matchup Overview

After an impressive 6-3 victory Wednesday night, the Devils return to The Rock where they’ll take on the Washington Capitals in their first Metropolitan Division battle of the season. Washington is coming off a 3-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins and are 2-1-1 on the young season. Meanwhile, New Jersey is sitting atop the division at 3-0-0 and are looking at a true test against a team with a complete all-around game.

Much like New Jersey, the Capitals have found their offensive game early on this season, having scored 15 goals; thanks in large part to Alex Ovechkin, whom already has eight goals  in four games played. The Devils will have to do their best to contain Ovechkin from running wild on them.

Projected Lines (Subject to change)

Washington

Ovechkin/Kuznetsov/Vrana
Burakovsky/Backstrom/Oshie
Connolly/Eller/Wilson
Chiasson/Beagle/Smith-Pelly

Orlov/Niskanen
Orpik/Carlson
Djoos/Ness

Holtby

New Jersey

Hall/Zacha/Palmieri
Johansson/Hischier/Bratt
Wood/Henrique/Hayes
Gibbons/Coleman/Noesen

Greene/Santini
Moore/Severson
Mueller/Butcher

Schneider

What to Watch

  • The Devils have gotten off to a hot start offensively; scoring 16 goals in just three games. However, they’ll be facing their best defensive opposition along with an elite goaltender in Braden Holtby. New Jersey has used their speed up front to wreak havoc early on this season. If they want to keep up their torrid scoring rate, they’ll need to play the fast, attacking style of hockey they’ve played through the start of the regular season.
  • As mentioned above, Alex Ovechkin has gotten off to a white hot start, netting eight goals in four games. While New Jersey has only given up six goals to start the season, they’ve had their issues defensively. They’ve given up 40+ shots in two of their three games, including 50 Wednesday night against Toronto. They’re going to have to tighten up defensively tonight because chances are they won’t be as lucky against a team with as much fire power as the Capitals.
  • Given the amount of shots against Wednesday night, I wouldn’t surprise me to see John Hynes mix up his defensive duos once again with Andy Greene and Damon Severson anchoring the team’s top pairing. The two played quite well together in New Jersey’s first two games of the season, specifically against Buffalo, where they were able to control the game at five-on-five. Don’t be surprised to see Will Butcher get a bump in ice time too. He’s played well in the team’s first three games and has held his own defensively and seems ready for an elevated role.
  • Special teams played a factor in Wednesday night’s victory against the Leafs, and it most likely will again tonight. New Jersey has been converting on 30.7 percent of their power play opportunities through three games- one of the top marks in the league. On the flip side, their penalty kill has been quite successful, but they’ve also taken the fifth-most penalties in the league, including eight minors in their 6-3 victory over Toronto. They’ll have to stay disciplined tonight because if they take that many penalties against Washington, Ovechkin and co. will make them pay for it.

Tonight’s game can be seen on MSG+ at 7PM

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  1. Pingback: S3.E4 – The Malcolm Devils | Jablam Hockey

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