And just like that, the Devils’ mini but impressive win streak ended on Tuesday night. A high flying Toronto Maple Leafs team took the victory, as the Devils were seeking their third straight. The Devils put together a push as the third period ran down, but it was way too little and way too late.
Two days later, the Devils will go south of the border, and I mean the Canadian border, to our nation’s Capital to face off against the appropriately named Washington Capitals. This will be New Jersey’s second meeting with Ovechkin and company in the past six days.
Players To Watch
With Kyle Palmieri temporarily sidelined, Blake Coleman’s making a strong case that he’s the best player on the roster. Fresh off his first career hat trick he’s just under 20 goals on the season. Even if the Devils have a bad game, Coleman puts on a show. Don’t expect a second career hat trick out of him, but maybe a tally or two.
Hold the phone but Miles Wood is on a three-game point streak. Granted the James Franco look-alike has a few empty-net goals over that time frame, but that shouldn’t diminish the accomplishment. Hopefully, he keeps his offensive touch coming.
The ink will be barely dry on Backstrom’s new extension by the time he hits the ice Thursday. His new contract extension of five years and $46 million is nothing short of a bargain for Washington. Maybe he’ll celebrate his new contract in style.
Keys To Victory
Limit the Hat Tricks
Yes, it was fun to see Coleman celebrate his first career hat trick, but the Devils have given up too many this past season as well. They have given up three in the past two weeks after Auston Matthews accomplished the feat in the same game as Coleman. For the first time in recent memory, the Devils have had multiple hat tricks in the same season. Unfortunately, both have come in a Devils loss. New Jersey keeps on scoring but doesn’t let the other team celebrate with a hat trick of their own anymore.
Faceoff Zone Presence
Both the Devils and Capitals are in the bottom 10 teams in the NHL for faceoff win percentage. The Devils have been better as of late, minus their performance in Toronto, where they only won roughly 40% of their faceoffs. Their dominance in the faceoff circle was a major part of their two surprising wins over the weekend.
Remember a few weeks ago when the Devils played the New York Islanders and didn’t take a penalty all game? They should do that again this time around. Even as he gets older, Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals are lethal on the power play. Washington also has the league’s second-best penalty kill, so don’t get too excited if the Devils find themselves on the man advantage.
New Jersey Devils
Rooney is ill and will be a game-time decision*
Where to Watch
Thursday’s matchup starts at 7:00 on MSG +2. Pregame coverage will start a half-hour before.
The season series is 1-1 between these two teams, with the road team taking each game. Maybe the Devils will continute that trend and skate off with a win. 4-3 Devils.