Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
The New Jersey Devils are coming off a big victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday and will look to keep causing trouble for teams throughout the rest of the season.
The Devils have been winning or at least earning a point ever since the return from the All-Star break and departure of players at the trade deadline. The Devils still have their flaws but are causing problems for a lot of good teams. While they sit 11 points out of a playoff spot with 14 games, it will be highly unlikely that they make it, as not only would they need to win almost every game, but they would need help from other teams losing.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are coming into the contest as one of the teams in the Metropolitan Division that is struggling at the worst time of the season to do so. For about the last month, Washington, Pittsburgh, and the Islanders have been struggling despite how they held the top three positions in the division for much of the season. The Devils seem to have an unusually good track record against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins and never really struggle with playing against them. The matchup should be fun to watch and here are some reasons why.
What To Watch For
He could be making his Devils’ debut since being acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes as part of the Sami Vatanen deal at the trade deadline. Kuokkanen was practicing on the fourth line with Michael McLeod and Kevin Rooney, so fans will have to wait and see what his usage in the game will look like. Kuokkanen has been great in Binghamton, the Devils’ AHL affiliate, who have gone on an incredible 26-9-0 run to climb back into a playoff spot. If Kuokkanen can receive a decent amount of minutes against the Penguins, fans and the organization can see how ready he is to step in and play at the NHL level.
He’ll look to continue his solid play and continue developing into the starting goaltender the Devils hoped he would become when they drafted him. As of now, it appears he will be trying to beat Matt Murray at the other end in order to help the Devils win. Without Blackwood and the re-emerging of Cory Schneider between the pipes, the Devils would not have the success that they have been experiencing recently. Since the All-Star break, they have been one of the best teams in terms of points acquired, which is a good sign for the future of the organization, though there is still much to improve upon.
The game will be at 7pm ET and can be seen on MSG+
- Wood – Hischier – Palmieri
- Hughes – Zajac – Anderson
- Bratt – Zacha – Gusev
- Rooney – McLeod – Kuokkanen
- Mueller – Subban
- Mermis – Severson
- Claesson – Carrick
- Zucker – Crosby – Sheary
- Marleau – Malkin – Rust
- McCann – Bjugstad – Hornqvist
- Tanev – Blueger – Rodrigues
- Dumoulin – Letang
- Pettersson – Marino
- Johnson – Schultz