Coming off a 6-3 victory against Ottawa Thursday night, in which they scored 5 first period goals, the Devils travel to Winnipeg looking to build on their recent success. Having won 3 in a row, the Devils come into tonight’s game looking to match their longest win streak of the season at 4. Winnipeg has struggled to find the back of the net as of late. They’ve scored 2 goals or less in seven of their last ten games and have gone 4-5-1 during that stretch.
New Jersey has had trouble scoring for much of the season, but have scored 10 goals in their last two games. Travis Zajac found his stride Thursday night playing on a line with Joseph Blandisi and Kyle Palmieri and was able to finally break out of his scoreless drought of 23 games with a goal in the first period. If the Devils are to extend their win streak to four, they’ll need another solid night from this line.
Winnipeg has been without Alex Burmistrov and Drew Stafford, but Paul Maurice is hopeful that both will be able to play tonight. Mark Scheifele has been on IR since December 27th with a concussion and is not expected to play.
John Moore only played four shifts in the 3rd period against Ottawa and was put on IR with a lower-body injury. Seth Helgeson was called up under emergency conditions and will make his season debut for the Devils tonight.
Cory Schneider…He’s been superb all season long. He comes into tonight with a .928 save percentage, which is 5th best in the NHL for goalies with 1700+ minutes in TOI, and a 2.06 goals against average. He’s been particularly good over his last 5 games. He’s stopped 133/141 of shots he’s faced, which is good for a .943 save percentage.
Connor Hellebuyck…The 22-year-old rookie has been very good this season filling in for the injured Ondrej Pavelec. He’s 11-8-1 with a .930 save percentage and 2.05 goals against average. With Winnipeg’s recent scoring woes, the Jets will need Hellebuyck to be on top of his game if they’re to get the win.
Players to Watch
Joseph Blandisi…He’s been very good since being called up two weeks ago. He has 5 points in 6 games and enjoyed a breakout night against Ottawa that included 2 assists and his first career NHL goal. He’s also been a 50.7% possession player and has been on the ice for more scoring chances for than against. The Devils will need depth scoring going forward if they want to make the playoffs and so far, he’s provided that and has earned a spot on a line with Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac.
Blake Wheeler…He’s having one of the best seasons of his career. He has 44 points in 47 games and is currently on pace to finish the season with 76 points, which would mark the highest total of his career. If Winnipeg is to break out of their scoring slump, they’ll need Wheeler to have a big game tonight.
Keys to the Game
Score First…The Devils are 16-0-3 when scoring the first goal this season. If the Devils are able to score first and get an early lead, they should win tonight given Winnipeg’s recent scoring woes, especially with Schneider in net.
Defensemen Creating Offense…New Jersey has been getting solid contributions offensively from their defensemen in recent games. David Schlemko had 2 assists Thursday night while Adam Larsson has 6 points in his last 7 games. The more offense they can create from their blue line, the better their chances are at extending their win streak.
Josefson and the Power Play…While he may not be racking up the points, Josefson certainly delivers when he’s on the power play. The Devils scored two power play goals against Ottawa snapping an 0/19 slump with the man advantage. Josefson provides the team with good puck control and decision-making along the half wall on the power play that allows the unit to get going.
Where and When to Watch
Due to the postponement of the Islanders game, the Devils will be broadcast on MSG+ and MSG +2 at 7:00 PM.