Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
The New Jersey Devils are coming into tonight’s contest after impressive back-to-back wins against the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning. Their opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs, are coming in after an embarrassing blowout loss to the Florida Panthers. What this means is that Toronto should be coming in extremely motivated and angry, while the Devils are coming in looking to continue to prove they can play with anyone. The Leafs are similar to the Devils in a couple ways this season believe it or not. And below will be a breakdown of keys to a Devils’ victory.
The Devils Need to Pressure the Leafs Defensemen
The Maple Leafs’ greatest weakness is their defensemen. The Devils must take advantage of this and work the offensive zone down low and pressure the Leafs’ defensemen to try and wear them down. The Leafs just called up Rasmus Sandin from the AHL — who is their top defensive prospect — and one that appears to be very promising, so the Devils should look to make sure this is not an easy game for him when he is on the ice. Add onto the fact that Toronto recently announced that their top defenseman Morgan Reilly will be out 2 months with a broken foot, while Jake Muzzin is already on IR with a broken foot as well, the Leafs are without their best two defensemen. So right now their best defenseman appears to be Tyson Barrie.
Devils’ Goaltending Performance Needs to Continue
Louis Domingue stood on his head the past two games against the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning and was definitely one of the biggest reasons the Devils emerged victorious from those contests. That level of goaltending will need to continue against the Leafs as while they do have an issue on the back end, the forward group is still very dynamic and dangerous at any time. While the Devils’ defense can help with this, the Devils, like the Leafs, have struggled on the backend this season, so the Devils’ defensive structure will need to be sound also.
Devils Need to Stay Out of the Penalty Box
The Devils did not do a good job of this against the Capitals by giving them five power play opportunities. But fortunately for the Devils, Washington was only able to capitalize on one of them. The Devils did better against Tampa, taking only two penalties all game, and keeping Tampa from converting on each one. The Leafs are even more deadly on offense with the man advantage than at even strength. The Devils know this, as the Leafs made the Devils pay in their last matchup when the Devils took penalties. I do not care how good the Devils can be at scoring short-handed goals; when it comes to the Leafs, Stay. Out. Of. The. Box.
- Zacha – Hischier – Bratt
- Coleman – Zajac – Gusev
- Wood – Hughes – Simmonds
- Boqvist – Rooney – Hayden
- Greene – Subban
- Severson – Vatanen
- Butcher – Carrick
- Hyman – Matthews – Marner
- Kerfoot – Tavares – Nylander
- Johnson – Engvall – Kapanen
- Spezza – Brooks – Gauthier
- Marincin – Barrie
- Dermott – Holl
- Sandin – Ceci