DAB Pregame: Devils Take on Panthers in Monday Matinee

Waking up on this Monday, the weather was dark, cloudy and overcast. Ironically, this was the perfect metaphor for how the New Jersey Devils season has gone so far. Entering Monday, and five games into the season, the Devils are still searching for their first win of the season. They’ve posted a mere two points in the NHL standings, by virtue of two overtime losses.
Come 1:00 this Columbus Day afternoon, the Florida Panthers will be at Prudential Center.

| Crédits : Eliot J. Schechter

Much like the Devils, the Panthers had themselves a successful offseason, picking up the services of three-time Stanley Cup-winning coach Joel Quenneville and star free agent goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Can New Jersey hold off the team from Sunrise, Florida to put themselves in the win column for the first time for this 2019-20? Or will the Devils fans that made the earlier than usual trip to the game leave Prudential Center unhappy once again?

Players to Watch

Jack Hughes

The 2019 first overall draft pick is still searching for his first NHL point. While Devils fans might be losing a bit of patience, they’re still looking towards the inevitable career milestone for the youngster. Even though it’s unrelated to Monday’s matchup, over the weekend second overall pick Kaapo Kakko picked up his first NHL goal. The race is one for these two players that will seemingly always be connected.

Boston Bruins defenseman Chris Breen (71) defends against New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game Monday, Sept.16, 2019, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

Cory Schneider

All signs seem to be pointing to the veteran netminder getting the start. While Schneider was a huge question mark entering the season, he’s been one of the few bright spots of consistency for this Devils’ team. His official stats are below average, even for him, but considering he’s still a work in progress coming back from various injuries that plagued him the past few years, we expect him to keep improving.

Cory Schneider will be making his 22nd start of the season this year. -Getty Images

Mike Hoffman

Just over a year removed from the drama that led to his exile from Ottawa, Hoffman has been lighting the lamp with Florida over and over again. In five games so far this season, he has seven points in the form of five goals and two assists. He currently leads this Panthers’ team, with high expectations in the points category.

Keys To Victory

Solve Sergei Bobrovsky

While without a doubt, he’s been an upgrade to the Panthers’ goaltending, Bobrovsky has been good, but not good enough, since his arrival in South Florida. Entering Monday, the all-star goaltender posts a 1-2-1 record with a 3.86 goals against average. Those numbers paint a different picture than what we were used to during his time in Columbus.

Devils Need To Fix Their Power Play

The time for being diplomatic about it is over; the Devils power play is downright awful. Throughout the past few games, they have been gifted opportunities on a silver platter and failed to find a way to capitalize. If a team can’t score on the man, or even two-man advantage, it speaks volumes about the kind of on-ice problems they’re facing.

Consistent Lines

Ever since the Devils found themselves with a 4-0 lead in hand against the Winnipeg Jets opening night, head coach John Hynes has seemingly jumbled his lines with little rhyme or reason. Even though the season is young, we have a decent idea of which of Hynes’ experimental combinations work and which don’t. Since the only injury to the roster right now is Captain Andy Greene, there are few questions marks of who can do what and be utilized in which situation.

Projected Lineups

New Jersey Devils: As per Amanda Stein on Twitter, lineups wouldn’t be announced until John Hynes 10:45 press conference. If the Devils go with the same lineup they did as Saturday’s game against the Bruins, the lineup card will look something like this, minus the addition of Tennyson somewhere on the blue line:

UPDATE

Boqvist will play left wing on the line centered by Jack Hughes, with Wayne Simmonds on right. Tennyson will also take Mirco Mueller’s spot on defense.

Florida Panthers

  • Vatrano-Barkov-Hoffman
  • Huberdeau-Malgin-Dadonov
  • Hawryluk-Trocheck-Connolly
  • Hunt-Acciari-Sceviour
  • Wegner-Ekblad
  • Matheson-Stralman
  • Yandle-Brown
  • Bobrovsky (starting)
  • Montembeault

Where To Watch:

The puck drops at 1:00 p.m. and can be seen on MSG Network. MSG Network will also have pre and post-game coverage.

Prediction:

I’m trying hard to stay positive, I really am. Let’s say, and hope, for 4-3 Devils? Please?

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