Game Preview: Devils Travel to West Point for Preseason Finale

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Pavel Zacha will get a chance to skate on the first line with Adam Henrique out of the lineup (Photo by Mark Baer: USA TODAY Sports)

Match Overview

Tonight, the Devils and Panthers will face off at West Point in what will be the Devils final tune-up before the regular season kicks off on Thursday night. From the looks of it, the Devils will be sending out a lineup that will closely resemble their opening night roster. As reported earlier this week, Jon Merrill will be out of the lineup for an extended period with a broken finger. Kyle Quincey will also sit tonight’s game out with a lower-body injury. This opens up an opportunity for one of Helgeson/Santini to solidify their roster spots to begin the season. Adam Henrique did not take part in the morning skate and will be out due to illness.

Devils Projected Lines:

Hall/Zacha/Smith-Pelly
Cammalleri/Zajac/Palmieri
Boucher/Kalinin/Bennett
Josefson/Fiddler/Speers

Greene/Lovejoy
Moore/Severson
Auvitu/Helgeson/Santini

Schneider/Kinkaid

What to Watch

  • Smith-Pelly’s career point totals aren’t anything to get overly excited about. He’s averaged 26 points per 82 games. I’m skeptical about him working out on the first line in the long-term, but it’s worth giving him a look before meaningful games get underway.

  • Continuing with the first line, Pavel Zacha will move up to center Hall and Smith-Pelly with Henrique out of the lineup. Zacha seems to be a lock to make the team regardless of tonight, but centering Hall shows that Hynes has confidence in him to play big minutes if needed.

  • Another beneficiary of Henrique being held out tonight is Blake Speers. It didn’t appear he’d be in the lineup prior to this morning’s skate. With this being the final preseason game, he’ll get one last chance to show he belongs on the opening night roster.

  • Severson has played the least of any Devils defenseman this preseason, which is a bit of a concern. He’s a better fit alongside Andy Greene than Ben Lovejoy is on the top defensive pair. Severson has had success with Greene in the past and he’s more capable of handling bigger minutes than Lovejoy is. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s deployed tonight.
  • Auvitu has done more than his fair share to earn a spot on the opening night roster. He’s positive possession for the preseason and has contributed offensively at a steady clip. He’s also been quarterbacking the first power play unit, which helps fill address a need they had before the preseason began. Even without a big game tonight, he’s most likely secured his spot on the opening night roster.

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