DAB Pregame: Devils Take on First Place Islanders

Matchup Overview

The New Jersey Devils will look to rebound after a tough 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, as they take on the New York Islanders. They come in with a 30-16-6 record, good enough for first place in the Metropolitan division. The Devils sit at 20-25-7, good enough for 30th in the league. The new regime of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz have quickly turned around the culture of the Islanders, making them an incredibly difficult team to play against night in and night out. They block seemingly all shooting lanes, are hard on pucks, and once they get a lead it’s full-blown shutdown mode. New Jersey will need to be on their A-game tonight if they look to steal a win, especially in the first game without Brian Boyle on the roster.

Keys to the game

Quick start… During their previous matchups, the Islanders have jumped out to an early lead and clamped down the Devils the rest of the way. Falling behind early isn’t a recipe for success no matter who you are playing, but especially this defensive-minded Islander team, and with Cory Schneider making his first start since Dec. 14. If the Devils want to stay in this game they need to control the tempo in the first five minutes and keep their legs moving all night.

Take chances on the penalty kill... Obviously, you hope not to get into penalty trouble, but that has been an issue for New Jersey all season long, and I don’t see it changing tonight. The Islanders come in with the 26th ranked power play, currently converting at 16.1%. The Devils did struggle against the Kings, going 1/4 on the penalty kill, but it has been their strong suit all season.

Pavel Zacha

Photo from Zimbio

Projected Lines

New Jersey Devils

Johansson – Hischier – Palmieri
Wood – Zajac – Coleman
Bratt – Zacha – Stafford
Seney – Rooney – Gabriel

Greene – Severson
Butcher- Lovejoy
Mueller-Gryba

Schneider

New York Islanders

Lee – Nelson – Eberle
Beauvillier -Barzal – Bailey
Dal Colle – Filppula – Komarov
Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck

Leddy – Boychuk
Pelech – Pulock
Toews – Mayfield

Greiss

Players to watch

Marcus Johansson... Johansson comes into this one with five points in his last five games and has finally managed to stay healthy for a stretch of games. Getting the chance to play top minutes has been a major benefit to Johansson, and he could even be given partial credit for how well Nico Hischier has been playing since Hall has been out. Goals are going to be tough to come by tonight for New Jersey, but keep an eye on #90, especially on the power play.

Brock Nelson… Obviously, all the spotlight falls on star center Mathew Barzal, but Nelson quietly does his job each and every game. Nelson is riding a two-game point streak and has a total of 33 points in 52 games. The Devils lack of size becomes an issue fairly often, and with Nelson sporting a 6’3″ frame, expect him to be a handful all night around the crease.

Where to Watch

Prudential Center: 7:00 pm

MSG

MSG+

Prediction

Losing a player like Boyle doesn’t only hurt on the ice but in the locker room as well. The Devils need to come out with strong energy early in this one, but the Islanders just play such a disciplined and tight-checking game, it will be hard to find space in this one. Islanders take this it 4-2.

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