Pregame: Devils Continue Road Trip With Visit to Sin City

Nico Hischier will look to build off his goal last game tonight in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Match Overview

Tonight’s game will feature your New Jersey Devils, who currently own a 26-27-12 record which puts them last in the Metropolitan Division. And the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who own a 36-23-8 record, which puts them first in the Pacific Division.

The Devils broke their two-game losing streak last time out, courtesy of a shutout performance by netminder Cory Schneider. This win improves the Devils to 8-3-2 in their last 13 games, which is easily their best stretch of the season. And it has largely been due to the stellar goaltending from Mackenzie Blackwood and, more recently, Schneider. Tonight will be a tougher test, as the Knights are the best team the Devils have seen since playing the Capitals a few weeks ago. 

The Devils are expected to have almost the same lineup as last time out. Only differences are Mackenzie Blackwood will be in between the pipes and it is yet to be determined if it’ll be Josh Jacobs — who played great in his season debut — or Frederik Claesson on the Devils’ third defensive pairing.

The Golden Knights – much like the Devils – are playing their best hockey of the season. Before a surprising 4-1 upset loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, the Knights were on a season-high eight-game win streak. Over this stretch, they outscored their opponents 33-17, and they took sole possession of first place in the competitive Pacific Division. It was announced that Robin Lehner – who was acquired at the trade deadline – will get the start for Las Vegas tonight.

Tonight’s game will be at T-Mobile Arena and is scheduled for 10:00 PM.

Projected Devils’ Lines

Forwards:

  • Hughes/Hischier/Palmieri
  • Bratt/Zacha/Gusev
  • Wood/Zajac/Anderson
  • Rooney/McLeod/Hayden

Defense:

  • Mueller/Subban
  • Mermis/Severson
  • Carrick/Jacobs or Claesson

Goalies:

  • Blackwood (21-12-8, .916 Sv%, 2.71 GAA)
  • Schneider

Projected Golden Knights’ Lines

Forwards:

  • Marchessault/Stastny/Smith
  • Pacioretty/Karlsson/Roy
  • Cousins/Stephenson/Pirri
  • Carrier/Nosek/Reaves

Defense:

  • McNabb/Schmidt
  • Martinez/Theodore
  • Holden/Whitecloud

Goalies:

  • Lehner (32-17-10, .919 Sv%, 2.98 GAA)
  • Fleury
Nikita Gusev — who was traded from Las Vegas to New Jersey — has been lighting it up as of late. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

What/Who to Watch

  • The Golden Knights are easily a Stanley Cup favorite, and this is evident by their play on a nightly basis. They are second in the league in Corsi for per 60 minutes (CF/60), which means they are one of the league’s best in generating shot attempts. On the other end of the ice, they are just as good at suppressing opponents’ shot attempts, as they rank third in the league with a Corsi against per 60 minutes (CA/60) of 51.27. In order to win this game, the Devils will need to pull off an upset by relying heavily on their netminder, as Mackenzie Blackwood will most likely be under duress constantly.
  • The Devils do not have many advantages on paper coming into tonight’s game, but one aspect of the game that may be in New Jersey’s favor is special teams. The Devils’ penalty kill has been the best in the league as of late, and now sits ranked ninth in the league. This in comparison to a Golden Knights’ power play that ranks 12th. The Golden Knights struggle on the penalty kill, as they rank 23rd. The Devils’ power play – which has experienced some success as of late – comes in at 22nd in the league. This after being near the bottom for most of the season. Special teams are one area the Devils need to take advantage of if they wish to pull off the upset.
  • Nikita Gusev is and has been for a while now, the Devils’ best offensive players. He finds himself in the middle of a six-game point streak, which is one of the longest active streaks in the league. Over this period, he has totaled nine points — two goals and seven assists. It’ll be interesting to see if ‘Goose’ — who was acquired via trade from the Golden Knights — can continue his streak tonight against a stifling Golden Knights’ defense.

Tonight’s game can be seen on MSG+ at 10:00 PM.

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