Pregame: Devils Look to Win Two Straight Versus Struggling Blues

The Devils will look to win their second straight game tonight. (Photo by Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Match Overview

Tonight’s game will feature your New Jersey Devils, who currently own a 22-26-10 record, which puts them last in the Metropolitan Division, and the St. Louis Blues, who own a 32-17-10 record, which puts them first in the Central Division.

The Devils come into tonight’s game after a wild last contest. After trading two integral players, they defeated a playoff-caliber team thanks to an electric performance by Mackenzie Blackwood. With the victory, the Devils improved to 5-2-3 over their last ten games and are now the closest they have been to hockey-.500 in a long time. At the morning skate we learned Louis Domingue is getting the start, and that Jack Hughes will be the left-wing on the top line, while Jesper Bratt is replaced by John Hayden.

The Blues are coming into tonight’s contest in desperate need of a win. They are currently riding a six-game losing streak and are 2-7-3 in their last 12 games overall. Over this time, they have given up 47 goals, which equates to 3.92 a game. It was announced that Jordan Binnginton (24-11-7, .909 Sv%, 2.72 GAA) will get the start in-between the pipes. 

Tonight’s game will be at the Enterprise Center and is scheduled for 8:00 PM.

Projected Devils’ Lines

Forwards:

  • Hughes/Hischier/Palmieri
  • Wood/Zajac/Gusev
  • Simmonds/Zacha/Merkley
  • Anderson/Rooney/Hayden

Defense:

  • Mueller/Subban
  • Butcher/Severson
  • White/Carrick

Goalies:

  • Domingue
  • Blackwood

Projected Panthers’ Lines

Forwards:

  • Schwartz/O’Reilly/Schenn
  • Sanford/Thomas/Perron
  • Steen/Bozak/Kyrou
  • Blais/Sundqvist/Barbashev

Defense:

  • Gunnarsson/Pietrangelo
  • Parayko/Faulk
  • Dunn/Bortuzzo

Goalies:

  • Binnington
  • Allen
Forward Nick Merkley scored his first career NHL goal in the Devils’ last game. (Photo by: Getty Images)

What/Who to Watch

  • Despite the recent struggles, the Blues have one of the league’s best power plays. Their man-up unit ranks fourth in the league, with a success rate of 24.7%. With a top unit that consists of Schwartz, O’Reilly, Schenn, Perron, and Pietrangelo, this comes as no surprise. This will be a great test for the new-look Devils’ penalty kill, who are now without two of the top penalty killers in the league, Andy Greene and Blake Coleman.
  • When the lineup was released this morning, many were confused. The fact that Domingue is starting does make sense, especially given Blackwood faced 54 shots just two days ago. However, the Jesper Bratt news is interesting, especially since he did participate in the skate. See above for interim head coach Alain Nasreddine’s reasoning. Also worth noting, is this will be Hughes’ first game at the NHL-level at a wing position.
  • Nick Merkley’s first two games as a Devil have been impressive. The 22-year-old has a Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 51.22 and extraordinary expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 78.51. For his good play, he was rewarded with an assist and his first career goal. It was also announced Merkley is being promoted to the third line, which is great to see. Like his teammate, Joey Anderson has also been impressive since his call-up. Through seven games played, he owns an xGF% of 64.82 and has contributed four points. He is set to remain on the fourth line alongside John Hayden and Kevin Rooney.
  • An underrated aspect of any game occurs at the face-off dot, and the Blues are tremendous in this area of the game. Led by Ryan O’Reilly (56.34%) and Tyler Bozak (54.88%), the Blues are ranked sixth in the league, with a team win percentage of 51.5%. In comparison, the Devils – who have long struggled in this area – rank tied for last in the league, with a 46.4% efficiency. 

Tonight’s game can be seen on MSG+ at 8:00 PM.

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