Alas! New Jersey Devils hockey is back as they will kick off their 2019 season tonight with split-squad games home against the Boston Bruins and away against the Montreal Canadiens. Luckily, those who will be in attendance at the Prudential Center will get to see several of the new Devils’ players, and quite frankly a better roster than one being sent to Montreal. See below for a full listing of each roster.
As you can see, the more enticing of the two games is the home game against Boston. Nikita Gusev, Jack Hughes, and P.K. Subban will all be making their debuts as Devils. This group will also be facing a very scarce Bruins’ lineup, as almost none of their projected final roster members are slated to play. It is reported that assistant Rick Kowalsky will be running the bench for the Devils. Also worth noting, forward Wayne Simmonds will not be debuting as he was a late scratch due to a lower-body injury. The Devils stress this is just precautionary and it is not serious.
As for the game in Montreal, the Devils do still have a few everyday players traveling across the border. But compared to the home game, there is a lot less depth. Luckily for the Devils, it seems as if Montreal will be putting out a similar product as only a few top guys in Jonathan Drouin, Max Domi, and Carey Price will play. Assistant Alain Nasreddine will be running the bench for the Devils in this matchup.
As for how you can watch the games, the game at The Prudential Center will be streamed by the Devils to in-market viewers. The game in Montreal will be televised on TSN2 or RDS. Both will begin at 7:00 PM.
Projected Boston at New Jersey Lines
Simmonds scratched due to injury*
Projected New Jersey at Montreal Lines
What/Who to Watch in Newark
- The line of Boqvist/Zajac/Bratt very much can be the third line come opening night. With that said, it is worth watching to see how the trio gels and play together. This will be the first time these guys are playing in an actual game with each other, so it will be very interesting to see how it goes.
- Expect Cory Schneider to play a large chunk of the game, with Gilles Senn – who struggled mightily in the Prospects Challenge – possibly getting some action, too. It’ll be interesting to see how Schneider begins the new year with a fresh start after his struggles last season before putting together solid performances down the stretch. Hopefully, given the weak Boston lineup, Schneider continues where he left off late last season.
- Ty Smith did not look like the dominant defender he was last year in the WHL during most of the Prospects Challenge. Reports of Smith having a strong start to training camp is encouraging. He will get to further show that his performance at the Prospects Challenge was a fluke as he will skate alongside Connor Carrick in what is the Devils’ third defensive pairing tonight. He will also get a chance to showcase his power play skills as he is slated to skate on the Devils second power play unit.
What/Who to Watch in Montreal
- As mentioned above, not a lot of the Devils’ premiere players are traveling to Canada. However, a duo which may play together for a large part of the season is Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri. The two played together for the better part of the season after Taylor Hall went down due to injury, and they played great together. It’ll be interesting to watch if the two pick up where they left off.
- Training camp is all about competition, and two guys that are in the thick of vying for a roster spot are slated to skate alongside each other on the third line. Good friends Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian are both currently on the bubble to make the Devils’ final roster. Each had pretty strong showings at the Prospects Challenge and played well in Binghamton last season. Both players will be hoping to show that they belong and can contribute at the NHL-level this season, and the audition starts tonight in Montreal.
- Carey Price is reportedly going to play a large chunk in tonight’s game. Price — albeit the recent injuries — has been one of the best goaltenders in the league for years. It’ll be interesting to see, especially given the lack of depth in the Devils lineup, how much they can generate against him. This is a prime opportunity for one of the younger kids who are on the roster bubble to make a statement and catch the eyes of the staff.
Next Preseason Game: Wednesday, Sept. 18th @ N.Y. Rangers