Preview: Devils Look to Right the Ship on Turkey Day

The Devils were able to rally from behind and defeat the Canadiens earlier this season in overtime. (Photo by: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

Match Overview

Tonight’s game will feature your New Jersey Devils, who currently own an 8-11-4 record, which puts them last in the Metropolitan Division, and the Montreal Canadiens, who own an 11-8-5 record, which puts them fourth in the Atlantic Division.

The New Jersey Devils are coming off another disappointing loss at the hands of the Minnesota Wild two nights ago. With a lineup that was criticized by many, they were unable to take advantage of a tired Minnesota team. Tonight’s lineup will feature the two forwards much believed should have been in the lineup Tuesday night. Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt will re-enter the lineup, and John Hayden and Brett Seney are out. As for the defensive side, everything will remain the same, with Mirco Mueller being the third healthy scratch. Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood will be in between the pipes after resting the past two games.

The Canadiens are picking up where they left off last season and outperforming many expectations. However, Tuesday night they were dismantled 8-1 at the hands of NHL’s best – the Boston Bruins. This may be the last thing the Devils wanted to hear, as the Canadiens will most likely be playing an angry game tonight. These Canadians are driven by a potent offense, as they average 3.29 goals per game and rank 15th on the power play. They do struggle a bit defensively, as they give up the fifth-highest goals per game and own the worse penalty kill in the league. Expect Carey Price (10-7-3, .900 Sv%, 3.09 GAA) – who’s struggled this year – between the pipes.

Tonight’s game will be at the Bell Centre and is scheduled to start at 7:30 PM.

Projected Devils Lines

Forwards:

  • Hall/Hischier/Palmieri
  • Coleman/Zajac/Gusev
  • Boqvist/Hughes/Simmonds
  • Wood/Zacha/Bratt

Defenseman:

  • Greene/Severson
  • Vatanen/Subban
  • Butcher/Tennyson

Goalies:

  • Blackwood
  • Domingue

Projected Canadiens Lines

Forwards:

  • Tatar/Danault/Gallagher
  • Lehkonen/Domi/Suzuki
  • Cousins/Kotkaniemi/Armia
  • Hudon/Thompson/Weal

Defense:

  • Chiarot/Weber
  • Mete/Petry
  • Reilly/Fleury

Goalies:

  • Price
  • Kinkaid
Forward Taylor Hall has been piling up the points as of late (Photo by: Elsa/Getty Images).

What/Who to Watch

  • The Canadiens’ style is one the Devils should mimic, as they play what can be described as “high-event hockey.” They are second in the league in Corsi for per 60 minutes (CF/60) with 64.03. However, they also give up chances as they own a Corsi against per 60 minutes (CA/60) of 54.63. High-event hockey sees chances go back and forth for each team, and this is what typically happens when the Canadiens play. This is a type of style the Devils don’t play – as head coach John Hynes has a system that is the complete opposite. However, hopefully, the Devils show they have a roster built to play this style.
  • The Canadiens are led by forward Tomas Tatar. He is one of the more underrated forwards in the league. He’s currently on pace for 72 points this season, as he leads the Canadians with 21 points (7G, 14A). He also does a great job in driving play, as he leads Montreal in Corsi for percentage (CF%), fifth in expected goals for (xGF%), and has an impressive 8.63 relative Corsi for % (Rel CF%) rating, which shows how much better off Montreal is with him on the ice rather than off. The Devils will certainly have their hands full with what is one of the better first lines in the league (rated 9th by dailyfaceoff.com).
  • Taylor Hall has had a down season in terms of underlying numbers. However, he’s been one of the Devils best forwards in terms of scoring over the past five games — he has six points over this time (2G, 4A). Amid trade rumors, Hall has seemingly blocked it out and has been producing as of late.

Tonight’s game can be seen on MSG+ at 7:30 PM.

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