Luck Be a Lady for the Devils as They Host Golden Knights

If you were hoping to wake up Tuesday morning to good news, this isn’t the place to look for it. Once again, the New Jersey Devils lost in a lopsided and embarrassing effort. The only good thing to come out of this Devils losing streak is I’m building up my own vocabulary, as I’m literally running out of words to say “this team sucks.” My current favorite word is “ineptitude”, as in “the image of Jack Eichel standing alone in front of the Devils’ net will forever be burned in my mind as a sign of this team’s ineptitude”.

The Devils have a quick turnaround, as they head back home to Prudential Center to take on the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas as a town known more for dealing out bad luck than good luck. And if anyone knows bad luck this season, it’s the Devils.

The Devils acquired Patrick Maroon at the trade deadline two months ago. -Zimbio.com

The Golden Knights are everything the Devils are not: skilled, consistent, and confident. After a somewhat shaky start to this season, the Golden Knights are riding a three-game win streak. While the Devils were busy being manhandled against the Buffalo Sabres, on the other side of New York, the Sabres were emerging victorious over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Keys To Victory

Stay Out Of The Penalty Box: Not surprisingly, the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Devils in every statistical category, such as goals per game, goals against per game, power play and penalty kill percentage. The most telling stat of all is that Vegas is a top ten power play team in the league. All of the Devils’ special teams are a mess, but if they can stay out of the penalty box, they can take away one of Vegas’ most powerful assets for victory in the man advantage.

Home Sweet Home: Prudential Center has not been kind to the Devils this season, as they’re 4-6-4 on their home ice. Both teams are playing the second half of a back-to-back. The Devils return home, while the Golden Knights play their second game in 24 hours in an arena that’s not T-Mobile Arena. The Devils don’t have a lot, if anything, going for them at this point, but home ice is one thing they have Tuesday night that Vegas doesn’t.

NEWARK, NJ – DECEMBER 31: Mackenzie Blackwood #29 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Goaltending: Just when you thought it wasn’t possible, the Devils seem to have the goaltending advantage against Vegas. Marc Andre Fleury, who’s been a large part of Vegas’ success over their first few years in the league, remains away from the team due to a personal matter. PK’s brother Malcolm Subban got the start against the Rangers yesterday. This leaves Vegas’ third-string goalie Garret Sparks as the netminder going against the Devils. Sparks has only seen action in one game so far this year, a loss to Colorado, where he had a 0.867 save percentage. If Blackwood doesn’t remain too shaken after last night he should have the upper hand.

Players To Watch

Nico Hischier

Hischier scored the only goal of a horrendous showing against Buffalo. If Jack Hughes remains out, Hischier is the Devils’ most talented center. Hischier has found some success against Vegas, including an overtime goal in a comeback win versus the Golden Knights last season in their last visit to Prudential Center.

Nikita Gusev

Gusev never technically suited up for the Golden Knights, but they were the team the Devils had to trade with to acquire him. Gusev takes on his old “team” for the first time on Tuesday. He also saw the scoresheet with an assist on Hischier’s goal in Buffalo.

Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his game-winning goal at 41 seconds of overtime on a pass from Nikita Gusev #97 against the Boston Bruins during preseason action. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Max Pacioretty

The former Montreal Canadien is Vegas’ leading scorer with 26 points. Ten of those points have come on the power play, yet another reason for the Devils to stay out of the box. Pacioretty also leads his team in shots, his 115 shot total being almost 20 more than the second place Jonathan Marchessault.

Projected Lineups

New Jersey Devils

Check out social media pages for any last minutes line up changes, specifically if Jack Hughes is a late addition to the lineup.

  • Boqvist-Hischier-Palmieri
  • Coleman-Zajac-Gusev
  • Hall-Zacha-Bratt
  • Wood-Rooney-Simmonds
  • Greene-Severson
  • Vatanen-Subban
  • Butcher-Tennyson
  • Blackwood (starting)
  • Domingue

Vegas Golden Knights

  • Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
  • Pacioretty-Stasny-Stone
  • Carrier-Glass-Tuch
  • Nosek-Stephenson-Reaves
  • McNabb-Schmidt
  • Hague-Theodore
  • Merrill-Engelland
  • Sparks

Where To Watch

If your eyes have recovered from watching Monday’s debacle, the Golden Knights matchup will be broadcast sat 7:00 p.m. on MSG network. Pregame coverage will start at 6:30, follow by post-game coverage. Viewer discretion is advised.

Prediction

Every time I pick the Devils to win, they lose, so let’s try a little reverse psychology this time. 3-2 final Vegas Golden Knights.

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