PREGAME: Hischier Returns to Face the Blue Jackets

After a tough loss to Carolina Hurricanes, the New Jersey Devils return home to battle the Columbus Blue Jackets. A very welcome sight for the game will be having Nico Hischier back on the ice leading the top line. Hughes did what he could with trying to fill the role, but it was very noticeable that the team was missing Hischier. The two-way play that Nico brings is going to be a very welcome boost in the defensive zone, and allowing Jack to play down in the lineup will take some pressure off and allow him to remain aggressive.

Projected lines

New Jersey Devils

  • Bratt – Hischier – Palmieri
  • Coleman – Zajac – Gusev
  • Zacha – Hughes – Simmonds
  • Wood – Rooney – Anderson
  • Greene – Subban
  • Butcher – Severson
  • Mueller – Carrick
  • Blackwood
  • Domingue

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • Nyquist – Dubois – Bjorkstrand
  • Foligno – Jenner – Gerbe
  • Robinson – Nash – Lilja
  • Milano – Stenlund – Bemstrom
  • Werenski – Nutivaara
  • Gavrikov – Savard
  • Harrington – Peeke
  • Merzlikins
  • Kivlenieks

Who to Watch

Mackenzie Blackwood

Even though he lost the shutout streak in his last outing, Blackwood has established himself as the team’s clear number one moving forward. With some spotty defense and inconsistent offensive output, there’s always going to be pressure on the goalie to keep the team in games. Columbus isn’t a real high powered offensive team, so this shapes up to be a great spot for him.

Elvis Merzlikins

This one really has the potential to be a major goalie duel. Merzlikins has five shutouts on the season and holds a .930 save percentage. After losing Bobrovsky, the thought was Columbus would be lacking in the goalie position, but they seem to have found a diamond in the rough.

Where to watch

MSG+, Prudential Center 6:00 pm EST

Prediction

The Blue Jackets have had the Devils’ number all year, outscoring New Jersey 10-1 in the two previous matchups. Look for this one to be a lower scoring game and a real goalie duel, with the Devils taking home the 2-1 victory.

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