The bright lights of the Las Vegas strip are the sight of the New Jersey Devils game this first Sunday of 2019. The Golden Knights will leave their fabulous world of roulette tables and pool parties to face New Jersey in a 4:00 pm matchup.
In the last meeting of these two teams, fans were treated to a spectacular finish for Jersey’s team. The Devils erased a three-goal deficit to beat the Golden Knights in overtime at Prudential Center.
Players to Watch
Drew Stafford: The player that Devils fans love to hate that finds his name on the healthy scratch list more than the scoring sheet, Stafford has quietly been increasing his contributions on the ice. Although he only has two goals on the season, one of them came in a high scoring loss against the Dallas Stars. He also scored in the skills competition of the shootout win against the Arizona Coyotes. Although he wasn’t credited with the shootout goal, he still found the back of the net in some way shape or form on both games of this road trip.
Travis Zajac: The Devils longest-tenured player has, similar to Stafford, put up a quietly successful performance on this road trip. He has three points in the two games so far.
Marc-Andre Fleury: The Vegas transplant that most Devils fans are used to seeing in a Penguins Jersey should start for the Golden Knights. The reason to watch Fleury is that Kinkaid is starting in the Devils net, so if this game comes down to a goaltenders duel, who has the edge?
Keys to Victory
Riding the Hot Hand: Vegas goes into this game as one of the hottest teams in the league, looking for their sixth win in a row. The Devils have their own hot streak in the with rookie goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood getting continuous starts. That will come to an end with the projected start of Keith Kinkaid in net.
Secondary Scoring: As opposed to the Devils who get a lions share of their scoring from their top players like Palmieri, Hall, and Hischier, Vegas is a different story. Their top goal scorer William Karlsson has 15 goals, with the scoring sheet more evenly divided between players.
Special Teams: Both the Devils and Golden Knights are evenly matched in special teams, with both teams power play percentage hovering in the bottom-middle tier of the league. The real battle will be the penalty kills, with each two boasting a top ten penalty kill in the league. Devils have the upper hand as their penalty kill is ranked second overall.
New Jersey Devils
Vegas Golden Knights:
The Devils have been playing stronger in this road trip, but it might not be enough to overcome Vegas’s stronger play and winning streak. 5-3 Vegas. But who knows, Vegas is a city full of surprising winners.