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The Devils continued their strong start to the preseason, tallying a 4-1 victory in Montreal led by Jesper Bratt’s two goals and Nico Hischier’s impressive performance, which included his second goal of the preseason. The Devils outshot the Canadiens 32-29 and out-attempted them 37-28 at five-on-five, continuing their solid play at even strength. Keith Kinkaid was rock solid in net, stopping 28 of 29 shots, while playing the full sixty minutes.
- The story of the night was the play of Nico Hischier, who was +9/-6 for shot attempts and (as mentioned above), finished with his second goal of the preseason. With the Devils looking for center depth after the Travis Zajac injury, Hischier stepped up right away and hasn’t looked out of place. He’s impressed John Hynes enough that he’s already considering expanding the role for the 18-year old. With four preseason games remaining, look for Hynes and his staff to give Hischier tougher minutes before the regular season begins.
- Hischier was not the only Devils youngster to impress last night. Enter Jesper Bratt, who scored two goals, including the empty-netter to seal the game. The young Swede’s first goal came after Stefan Noesen sent the puck towards the crease and found Bratt all alone in front of an open net. Bratt is a small, but highly-skilled winger, who (as John Hynes said last night) has impressed since rookie camp. With Bratt not being AHL-eligible, it’s hard to see him sticking around for the whole season. If he continues his play at this level though, the Devils could keep him around for the nine-game limit before returning him to the OHL. Either way, he’s another young forward Devils fans should be excited about.
- The Devils are getting the most out of Mirco Mueller at the moment. He scored his second goal of the preseason and had 19:29 of ice time last night. Mueller has been a steady defensive presence, shown good puck-moving ability, and has more than held his own at five-on-five in his first two preseason games. At the moment, he’s made a very strong case for him being the team’s sixth defenseman. If he continues his strong play, there’s no doubt he’ll be on the ice come the Devils opener on October 7th.
- After an awful camp and preseason last season, Joseph Blandisi has completely flipped the script. He was +10/-5 in five-on-five shot attempts, and tallied another assist, giving him three in two preseason games. There’s a lot of competition for the bottom six roles, but Blandisi has put himself in a good spot for early consideration. There’s no doubt this is an important camp for Blandisi if he wants to remain in New Jersey beyond this year and so far, he’s helped his cause.
- Making his preseason debut, Steven Santini made the best of his first game. The Westchester, New York native was +15/-8 in shot attempts at five-on-five (tied with Dalton Prout and Brian Strait for the best margin for a defenseman last night). Santini is in good position to make the roster out of the gate, having already played almost half a season (and showing well) for John Hynes in 2016-2017. If he and Mueller continue to play well, don’t be surprised if they’re paired together on opening night.