Tonight’s game three takes place after the New Jersey Devils dropped the first two contents of this round one playoff series in Tampa Bay. In each matchup, New Jersey fell behind quickly and by a large margin. Tonight they will look to reverse this theme and get a much-needed victory in front of their home crowd.
The Devils are going with a much different lineup than game two. Forward Marcus Johansson returns lineup after a 37-game absence, along with winger Drew Stafford. Forwards Brian Gibbons and Michael Grabner will come out of the lineup. On defense, Damon Severson is expected to move into a top-4 role as Mirco Mueller looks to be the odd-man out of the lineup. The last lineup change you’ll certainly notice tonight is Cory Schneider will be making his first postseason start as a New Jersey Devil. After surrendering nine goals in two games (granted most weren’t his fault), it appears Keith Kinkaid’s string of starts is coming to an end.
The Lightning come into this game with tons of momentum. Scoring five goals in each of their first two contests and getting stellar goaltending from their all-star net-minder makes this confidence warranted. However, they are expected to be without a key bottom-six forward in Ryan Callahan due to injury. As expected Andrei Vasilevskiy (70 saves on 75 shots over the first two games) will once again be in between the pipes.
Projected Devils Lines
Projected Lightning Lines
What/Who to Watch
- The Devils return home is instrumental to their sucess, as it means head coach John Hynes can control the matchups. Look for Sami Vatanen to see the Stamkos line often, while Taylor Hall’s unit will be on the ice whenever you see Dan Girardi employed for the Lightning. Matchups are a large part of any hockey game, and tonight they’ll be in the Devils favor.
- The Devils only won 37 percent of faceoffs in game two, something that’s been an issue all year long for this team (they ranked 30th in the league during the regular season). In order for this series to become more competitive the Devils most fair better in the dot.
- As mentioned earlier, forward Marcus Johansson is slated to be back in the lineup. Before being injured, Johansson ranked among the top part of Devils forwards in points per 60 minutes. His place on the second line will give his team a much-needed boost in talent.
Tonight’s game can be seen on CNBC or MSG+ at 7:30 PM.