Teams have had some time to rest and get ready for the second half push following the All-Star break, and the Devils first challenge comes from the Detroit Red Wings. The Devils come into this game on a 2 game losing streak and will certainly be looking to end January with a bang against a Detroit team who has lost 4 straight and have looked mediocre at best for most of the season.
Keys to the game:
One the Devils main problems all season long has been creating offense while playing 5 on 5, and now is the time they need to start changing that negative into a positive. Both teams are in the bottom 5 of the goals per game category, with Detroit averaging 2.39 and the Devils averaging 2.20. Both teams also come into this one averaging close to 3 goals against per game, with the Devils averaging 31.2 shots against per game and the Red Wings averaging 30.5 shots against, so getting the puck to the net and winning those net front battles are going to be key.
Players to watch:
For the Devils, I’m going to lean on the big guns for this one, starting with our only All Star Taylor Hall. He needs to get back to his early season form of taking things over on the offensive end and generating chances by getting pucks towards the crease as often as possible. If he is able to generate 6 shots on net tonight, look for him to be a name that is repeated on the score sheet and probably will have to be one of the three stars in this one to give the Devils a chance.
On the other side the Red Wings have a lot of dangerous weapons that need to be held in check. Anthony Mantha is a big-bodied power forward who knows how to use his size to his advantage and generate opportunities, the Devils will have to keep him out of the crease at all costs. Also have to keep an eye on the speedster Dylan Larkin, all it takes is one mistake on the back end and he will be walking in all by himself.
Coming off the break I expect both teams to be well rested, even with the Devils having to travel. The Devils have started to play a stronger game as of late, and I think they will be able to take advantage of a shaky defense to pull out the win in this one by the score of 4-2.