On Tuesday, The New Jersey Devils travel to the Midwest for an evening match up against the St. Louis Blues. This comes off of a surprising Devils win on Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Devils were able to break their lengthy home losing streak against a strong Hurricanes team trying to get into the playoffs.
Although the location is different, the backstory will be the same tonight, as the Devils face a team fighting for a playoff spot. While at one point the Blues seemed dead and buried, at the victim of underperforming expectations, the wide-open nature of the Western Conference has allowed them a chance to win their way back to relevancy. When the Devils hit the ice on Tuesday, the Blues will be sitting in the first Western Conference Wild Card spot with a game in hand. Not only that, but they enter with a current six-game win streak. The Blues are fighting to play hockey in April. Meanwhile, the Devils have all but booked their tee times on the golf course.
Players to Watch
Vladimir Tarasenko: St. Louis’s star player is the reason the Blues have been able to catapult their way back to playoff relevancy. The Russian sniper has 10 points throughout the Blues six-game win streak, including a hat trick with the overtime winner against Nashville on Sunday. Those wild and rare trade rumors that St. Louis was planning on doing the unthinkable and possibly moving him have been silenced in his and the team’s recent success.
Kenny Agostino: All eyes will be on the Devils’ newest addition picked up off the waiver wire on Monday. The New Jersey native will meet the Devils in St. Louis after netting 11 points with the Montreal Canadiens through 36 games. The move isn’t exactly earth-shattering, but so far, it has been met with a positive response from Devils fans.
Marcus Johansson: After Brian Boyle was sent off to Nashville, Marcus Johansson remains the Devil’s number one trade chip heading toward the deadline. If the timing couldn’t be more perfect, Johansson has ramped up his production in all the right ways, including an impressive two-goal performance against the Hurricanes on Sunday. As the calendar approaches Feb. 25, expect him to keep trying to put on the show as Shero takes offers from the highest bidders.
Keys to Victory
Blues Winning Streak: the Post All-Star break has seen numerous teams go on excessive winning streaks to take them from the basement of the division and into the playoff conversation. Just like the Flyers and Blackhawks have changed their fortunes, so have the Blues. Momentum is clearly on their side, but it was also on the Hurricanes’ side when they played the Devils on Sunday. How much of a difference is this home advantage going to make?
Putting Agostino In the Lineup: While joining a new team on the road with short notice is a normal part of hockey and trade culture, Agostino’s place in the lineup comes at the expense of Ryan Murphy, who was sent down to Binghamton. While most believe that Agostino is the better of the two, Murphy was coming off a strong game against Carolina, so the timing to demote him was far from perfect.
Jesper Bratt: Through the last four games, Bratt has been a point-per-game player. He is three assists away from reaching his previous career high of 22, so expect to see him on the scoresheet. Most notable of his recent on-ice contributions were what could be considered the game-winning assist against the Hurricanes, so keeping his point streak going could be vital to a Devils win in St. Louis.
New Jersey Devils
Kinkaid (starting)/ Schneider
St. Louis Blues
The Devils might have been able to surprise and hold off the Hurricanes, but they can’t avoid the same fate twice. 4-1 St. Louis to keep their win streak going.