The New Jersey Devils have been on fire, winning their past four games and catching up to the Flyers in the Metropolitan standings. Nico Hischier was the best player in the league last week, and all is well in Devils land. Even Eddie Lack decided to just become a great goalie out of nowhere (granted it was for one game). The only problem is their stream of seemingly must win games with a divisional battle tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. This game is the difference between being 5 or 9 points up on them in the wildcard standings (ie a four-point game). If the Devils win and the Flyers lose they also can jump to the third spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Keys to the Game
The Blue Jackets have been putting up huge shot numbers over the past few weeks, so it will be important for the Devils to suppress their opportunities. Whether it comes in the form of blocking shots or pressure in the neutral zone, the Devils need to play a tight defensive game tonight.
Until Schneider gets back I will continue to echo goaltending as a key. Kinkaid and Lack have both turned in impressive performances recently, but will have to keep it up in order for the Devils to continue their success.
Players to Watch
Pavel Zacha has improved since the beginning of the season. He has become an important member of the penalty kill and recently has been rewarded on the score sheet as of late.
Artemi Panarin has proven this season that he doesn’t need Patrick Kane to put up superstar numbers. His combination of speed and skill will be very tough to contain.
Kinkaid is back in net so it will be interesting to see if he continues to roll after his great start against the Hurricanes. Hall and Hischier will continue to do what they do so the offense should be there. It will come down to the defense limiting high quality chances for the Jackets. If they do that I think they will be in a good spot to win tonight.
Devils win 3-1