Preview: Devils Face Off Against Rangers in Saturday Matinee

Drew Stafford scored a winning goal against the Rangers last season -zimbio.com

As I slipped into my Thanksgiving induced food coma Thursday night, the Devils were finishing off the Montreal Canadiens north of the border. While everyone was driving to malls at 4:00 a.m. to save $15 on a toaster, the New Jersey Devils were practicing to get ready for their next opponent. Fresh off their Turkey Day win, the Devils will take on the New York Rangers.

After the parade festivities are done, the Rangers will cross the Hudson for the second meeting of the season. Just like the first, this one will take place at Prudential Center. With Jack Hughes absent from practice Friday, this second meeting might not feature the Hughes and Kaapo Kakko matchup we’ve been expecting. As the clock runs down on time for Devils to turn around their season, they will want a win more than just to beat their rivals.

Players To Watch

Blake Coleman

The most underrated player in the NHL keeps putting together a career year. Thursday’s game in Montreal was the first four-point game of his career, as well as his birthday. His two goals in Montreal tied him for the team lead of nine with Kyle Palmieri.

Jesper Boqvist

After spending much of the beginning of the season in the press box, Boqvist has found himself back on the ice. Not only that, but he’s also found the back of the net. His go-ahead goal on Thursday was his second in as many games. Maybe he’s finally proved himself and John Hynes will keep him around.

Kaapo Kakko

Whether Jack Hughes plays Saturday or not, Devils fans will also keep an eye out for Kaapo Kakko. Throughout 22 games this season, number two has ten points in the form of six goals and four assists. He’s been held pointless in his last five games, and Devils fans hope that streak continues.

Keys To Victory

Don’t Change The Lines: John Hynes just loves shuffling those lines mid-game. He did it during Thursday night’s matchup in Montreal. That game ended in a Devils win, but most of the time we see Hynes change his lines, the Devils end up losing. It’s understandable that mid-game changes need to be made once in a while, but Hynes should change his lines just for the sake of changing his lines and defensive pairings. The whole team is struggling to stay consistent, and this weird strategy isn’t helping.

John Hynes was hired after the firing of ex-Devils coach Pete Debeor by general manager Ray Shero. –Getty Images

Turnovers: While Thursday’s win was welcomed, the pain of Tuesday’s loss against a terrible Minnesota Wild team is still fresh in memory. The Devils’ biggest problem in that easily winnable game was a plethora of turnovers. Let’s keep turnovers to apple-filled pastries we eat at Thanksgiving, alright fellas?

Back-to-Back: The Rangers are playing a back-to-back on the road, away from the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden. Taking one of the NHL’s toughest teams in the Boston Bruins to overtime is no easy task. The Rangers have no layover before visiting the Devils. The Devils will be well rested in comparison.

Projected Lineups:

New Jersey Devils (Check our social media pages for updated lines prior to puck drop)

New York Rangers

  • Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich
  • Panarin-Chytil- Strome
  • Lemieux-Howden-Kakko
  • Fast-Nieves-Smith
  • Skjei-Trouba
  • Lindgren-Fox
  • Hajek-DeAngelo
  • Georgiev (starting),
  • Lundqvist

Where To Watch

Today’s game is a matinee with a 1:00 p.m. start time. The game will be on MSG, MSG+ and NHL Network out of the market.

Prediction

The Devils have been playing pretty well at home against the Rangers over the past few years. Let’s be optimistic and say 3-2 New Jersey.

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