The New Jersey Devils head up to the great white north to face off against an Auston Matthews-less Toronto Maple Leafs team. The Devils started this road trip with a wild game in Chicago that saw them erase a 4-1 deficit to win 7-5. The Maple Leafs are coming off of a 4-1 win over their rivals the Boston Bruins. Both teams enter this game with 24 points. The Devils currently sit first in the Metropolitan division while the Leafs are in second in the Atlantic. It’s worth noting the Devils are 6-0-0 against Atlantic Division teams going into tonight’s matchup (that includes a 6-3 win over these same Maple Leafs earlier this season).
Keys to the Game:
Just like New Jersey, the Maple Leafs defense has been very shaky this year. They are for the most part young, inexperienced, and very prone to making mistakes in the early going. Having just mentioned New Jersey’s struggles on the backend, this game will simply come down to offense tonight. The Devils are going to need their forwards to help limit a skilled Toronto team’s chances. They will also need to bury their own chances when they get them because it is almost a guarantee the Leafs will give some up.
Players to Watch:
Mitch Marner has struggled this season, but it’s no reason to sleep on the sophomore forward. Marner is extremely skilled and with his mix of puck skills and speed, can create a scoring chance at any moment.
Travis Zajac makes his return to the lineup tonight. He missed the beginning of the season (17 games) with an upper body injury that required surgery late in the offseason. Hopefully his return further supplement’s New Jersey’s depth down the middle, along with some much needed defense.
The Devils have been cruising recently, but are struggling to limit their opponent’s shots. The Devils are one of the worst teams at suppressing shots, while also being one of the worst at generating them as well. This is bound to catch up at some point, but especially considering how Toronto is a mirror image of the Devils, maybe it necessarily doesn’t happen tonight.
Devils win 5-3.