After a 4-1 defeat at the hand of the San Jose Sharks on Sunday the Devils will hope to turn it around and remain in the play-off hunt tonight, at The Rock, against Colorado. This will be the first of three match-ups this year between the two teams and it’ll showcase two completely different mindsets. The Devils are sitting 5-points out of the last wild-card spot in the East and are ad mist a 7-4-1 stretch since Jan. 13th. The Avalanche, on the other hand, are the worst team in the NHL with a 15-36-2 record. They currently find themselves in a 3-game losing skid, and before squeaking out two wins prior to their current streak, they found themselves in a 9-game losing streak. To go along with the terrible record, they are also in the bottom of the league in almost every major team statistic: 30th in GF, 30th in GA, 29th on the PP, and 25th on the PK. They will also put ex-AHL superstar goaltender Jermey Smith in between the pipes. The 27-year old will be making his first career NHL start. To say the least this season has been an absolute mess for Colorado.
Smith (1st Career NHL start)
Schneider: 17-16-8, 2.67 GAA and .912 Sv%
Devils Injury Report
- Jon Merrill returns to the line-up tonight after missing the past 4-games due to an upper-body injury, he will be paired with Damon Severson.
- Forward Beau Bennett has missed the past 8-games with a lower-body injury and will miss his 9th tonight even though John Hynes reported that he had a chance to play. Bennett will surely be back in the line-up soon as he was described as “real close” to returning.
- Kyle Quincey is another defenseman that has been missing time with an upper-body injury. He has missed the past 4-games but continues a practice. His return is TBD.
What to Watch
- Colorado doesn’t have much to be happy about this year but one statistic they must be proud of is their success on the face-off dot. Colorado holds the leagues 2nd best team face-off percentage at 53.6%. They are led by superstar Matt Duchene (61.7%) and penalty-killing specialist John Mitchell (55.8%). The Devil’s on the other-hand aren’t too shabby themselves on the dot. They rank 15th in the league at 50.1%. The face-off dot is a huge part of every game and tonight will not be any different.
- The Devils were being outshoot 21-4 at one point during Sunday’s matinee. Luckily the Avalanche are allowing a 5th most 32.1 shots against per game. The Devils are last in the league in getting shots to the net in averaging only 27.3 a game. Hopefully the Devils can find a groove in getting shot to the net against this weak Avalanche defense.
- The Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen line is by far the best three-some the Aves have to offer. Specifically, in these last 5-games they have combined for a team-high 15-points. To say the least, this line has been hot of late and the Devil’s defensive-core must make a point to play strong defensively with these three on the ice.
- The return of Jon Merrill can help the Devils combat that first line for the Avalanche. Before getting injured during the Devil’s 4-3 defeat of Detroit on Jan. 31st, Merrill was doing just about everything. He was averaging just above 20-minutes a game and a vital-part of the Devil’s penalty-kill. In terms of advanced statistics Merrill is 4th of the Devil’s current defenseman on the roster at a CF% of 46.8%. Merrill was playing some of his best hockey before being injured, his return is certainly welcomed.
Today’s game can be seen on MSG at 7:00 PM.