The New Jersey Devils come into this one with their first winning streak since the middle of November and hope to extend it on home ice. The Vancouver Canucks are in town with a 19-18-4 record and a very young team that is entertaining to watch. The Devils seem to have finally found some solid goaltending courtesy of Mackenzie Blackwood. But they can’t keep allowing 35+ shots against regardless of who is in net. These two teams are tied in many statistical categories (power play, faceoff%, shots allowed). But the Devils have a big advantage when it comes to the penalty kill. Look for special teams to play a big role in this one, and it may just come down to another goalie battle.
Keys to the game
Keeping shots against out of the danger areas… Although the Devils gave up 37 shots against the Hurricanes on Saturday, they actually did a decent job keeping those shots out of the slot. They certainly can’t afford to give up 3+ breakaway chances like they did in that one. But if they continue to play hard in front of the net, either goalie should be able to have a lot of success.
Stay stingy on the penalty kill… The Devils not only rank in the top five on the penalty kill in the league (84.3%), but they also have 5 shorthanded goals (Zacha-2, Coleman-2, Zajac-1). In facing a fast-paced team like the Canucks, the Devils will have to once again be on their game when Vancouver gets an opportunity on special teams. If the Devils remain aggressive towards the puck carrier and clear the zone when they get it along the boards, look for another strong showing from the special teams unit.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) December 29, 2018
New Jersey (Unofficial: be sure to check our social media pages before puck drop for line confirmations)
Bratt – Hischier – Palmieri
Quenneville – Zajac – Coleman
Wood – Zacha – Noesen
Boyle – Seney – Stafford
Greene – Severson
Vatanen – Santini
Butcher – Lovejoy
Loui Eriksson – Bo Horvat – Jake Virtanen
Nikolay Goldobin – Elias Petterson – Brock Boeser
Sven Baertschi – Markus Granlund – Josh Leivo
Antoine Roussel – Jay Beagle – Tyler Motte
Alexander Edler – Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton – Troy Stecher
Derrick Pouliot – Erik Gudbranson
Players to Watch
Brian Boyle… Even though he didn’t end up on the scoresheet against Carolina, Boyle had a strong game and was creating chances around the net seemingly every shift. With his big body presence in front, as long as he keeps getting pucks on net, it’s only a matter of time before he buries one, especially on the powerplay.
Elias Pettersson… Currently leading the team with 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) Pettersson has been taking the league by storm and is heavily in the conversation for rookie of the year honors. On a line with Brock Boeser, that pairing has the ability to score from almost anywhere on the ice. If one of these two are able to get loose from defensive coverage, the puck almost always seems to find the back of the net.
Where to Watch
Prudential Center 1:00 p.m.
MSG+, MSG GO
Betting Lines (All info taken from Draftkings Sportsbook)
New Jersey: -1.5 goal spread, -143 money line
Vancouver: +1.5 goal spread, +118 money line
Over/Under 5.5 goals
Both of these teams bring young speed and talent to the rink, which also means there will be mistakes that can be taken advantage of. Even in their recent victories, the Devils have given up a ton of shots, so I look for them to clamp down a bit more in their own zone and block more shots to help out their goalie. Home ice has truly been an advantage for New Jersey this season, and I think it will be again today. Devils win this one 3-1 and continue to ride a very hot goalie in Blackwood.