DAB Pregame: Winless Devils Take on Hudson River Rival Rangers

Devils take on the Rangers in hope of capturing their first win of the season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Match Overview

Tonight’s game will feature your New Jersey Devils, who currently own a 0-4-2 record, which puts them last in the Metropolitan Division, and the New York Rangers, who own a 2-1-0 record, which puts them seventh in the Metropolitan.

The Devils are coming off another demoralizing defeat, as they blew a 4-1 lead at the hands of the Florida Panthers. In that game, they still showed they are struggling in almost all areas of the ice. Both their 2.17 goals for per game and 4.50 goals against per game rank 30th in the league. As for their special teams, the Devils are one of two teams who have yet to score a power play. Meanwhile, their penalty kill ranks last in the league (57.1% successful kill rate). It’ll be interesting to see if the addition of assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald on the bench helps improve these horrid numbers. In regard to lineup changes, Jesper Boqvist, Nico Hischier (injured), and Connor Carrick are expected to be scratched. Mackenzie Blackwood will get the start in net.

The New York Rangers have only played three games thus far this season. Interestingly enough, they almost have the same amount of goals scored (11) as the Devils do in twice as many games. Early indications show what many expected out of the Rangers, a decent offense and a lackluster defense. Unlike the Devils, the Rangers’ special teams have thrived. They own the third-ranked power play (33.3% success rate) and the tenth-ranked penalty kill (83.3% successful kill rate). The Rangers announced yesterday that Alexandar Georgiev (1-0-0, .969 Sv%, 1.00 GAA) will get the start in between the pipes.

Tonight’s game will be at the Prudential Center and is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM.

Projected Devils Lines

Forwards

  • Hall/Hughes/Palmieri
  • Coleman/Zajac/Simmonds
  • Gusev/Zacha/Bratt
  • Wood/Rooney/Hayden

Defense

  • Severson/Subban
  • Butcher/Vatanen
  • Mueller/Tennyson

Goalies

  • Blackwood
  • Schneider

Projected Rangers Lines

Forwards

  • Panarin/Zibanejad/Buchnevich
  • Kreider/Howden/Kakko
  • Smith/Strome/Fast
  • McKegg/Andersson/Haley

Defense

  • Skjei/DeAngelo
  • Hajek/Trouba
  • Staal/Fox

Goalie

  • Georgiev
Forward Pavel Zacha has been great to start the season. (Getty Images)

What/Who to Watch

  • Pavel Zacha has been by far the Devils’ best forward. He currently ranks second on the team with four points (1G, 3A), courtesy of his first career three-point performance against Florida. He also has fantastic underlying numbers — he owns a Corsi For % (CF%) of 52.69 and an expected goals for % (xGF%) of 64.30. And it is readily apparent as whatever line he is on is always the best line the Devils have. It’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues tonight, as he is projected to skate alongside two forwards who struggle mightily on defense.
  • Mika Zibanejad has been a great addition since the Rangers acquired him from the Senators a few years back. This year it seems he is primed for the best of his career. Through only three games Zibanejad has eight points (4 G, 4 A), 12 shots, and a +3 rating. Each of which is the highest on the Rangers. Whoever has the assignment of defending his line can be in for a long night, as he also leads the Rangers in time on ice, with almost nearly 22:00 minutes a game. 
  • Jack Hughes is still looking for his first career point. His current drought is the longest for a first overall pick since John Tavares had to wait a long while to record his first point years ago. Hughes will have a great shot to break this streak tonight, as he is projected to skate alongside Taylor Hall for the first time this season. This due to a Nico Hischier injury that will keep him out at least for tonight’s game. Hopefully, we will see the rookie on the stat sheet for the first time.

Tonight’s game can be seen on NBCSN at 7:00 PM.

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