Coming off an encouraging 4-1 victory on Saturday afternoon, the New Jersey Devils are set to play their first road game of the season against the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres have a game in hand over the Devils, but have yet to register their first win of the season. While it’s been revealed that Kyle Palmieri and Drew Stafford- two players who were injured in Saturday’s home opener, have traveled with the team to Western New York, it hasn’t been determined if either player will sit out or not. No call-ups have been made and although the injuries to either player have been rendered to be relatively minor, it might be wise of Coach Hynes lets both right wings sit this afternoon’s game out (considering how early it is in the season).
Cory Schneider is likely to make his second start of the season. It appears backup Keith Kinkaid will make his season debut later on this week when New Jersey plays their first set of back-to-back matchups against Washington and New York. In lieu of their two injured right wingers, Jesper bratt and Jimmy Hayes respectively occupied the first and second line right wing spots in yesterday’s practice. With winger Miles Wood on standby, New Jersey would probably have to make one call-up, which would likely come down to one of John Quenneville or Joseph Blandisi. If no roster transactions are announced between now and noon, it might be safe to say the Devils will go with the same lineup on Friday (unless they play with 11 forwards and seven defensemen).
Players to Watch
Jesper Bratt…He and rookie defenseman Will Butcher stole the show Saturday afternoon with their multi-point games. Bratt was used in all situations on Saturday, and registered both points in special team scenarios. The potential absence of Palmieri and/or Stafford could provide a huge opportunity for Bratt, if he’s rewarded ample top-six playing time (in addition to his special team usage).
Nico Hischier…While the 2017 first overall pick played valiantly in Saturday’s victory, he failed to register his first NHL point. Considering how he’s going against hockey prodigy (and former second overall pick) Jack Eichel, tonight could be the first big test for Nico to see how he matches up against one of the league’s premiere young talents. I’m sure it’ll also benefit Nico the sooner he hits that first NHL point milestone.
Keys to the Game
Five-on-Five Scoring…Although the Devils are coming off a commendable effort on Saturday afternoon, they scored all four goals on the PK or man advantage. Granted the Devils applied some relentless pressure in Colorado’s zone and had multiple scoring chances during even strength play, they failed to get anything past Bernier when both teams had five men on the ice. I’m not concerned about this facet of the team’s play right this second, but it would obviously be more beneficial if they hit that even strength scoring milestone sooner than later.
Where & When to Watch