The New Jersey Devils have enjoyed a great start to the 2017 preseason, posting a 2-0-1 record and a goal differential of +5. They’ve scored three or more goals in all three of their preseason matchups thus far. Tonight, they play at home for the second and final time this preseason against their division foes, the New York Rangers for the second time.
It looks as if Henrik Lundqvist will again start between the pipes for the Rangers, which will continue the Devils trend of facing good goaltending this preseason. Expect to see Cory Schneider in net for New Jersey, and don’t be surprised if (like Kinkaid last night), Schneider plays all 60 minutes. The Rangers are reportedly deploying a very NHL-like club tonight, meaning you’ll be seeing a lot of the names that will be on New York’s season-opening roster. It’ll definitely be interesting to watch how the lineup the Devils deploy tonight holds up to the very regular season-like lineup the Rangers are using.
Projected Devils Lineup
Nathan Bastian, Joseph Blandisi, Jesper Bratt, Brian Gibbons, Jimmy Hayes, Adam Henrique, Nick Lappin, Michael McLeod, Blake Pietila, John Quenneville, Drew Stafford, Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha
Will Butcher, Viktor Loov, Ben Lovejoy, John Moore, Steve Santini, Brian Strait, Colton White
Mackenzie Blackwood, Cory Schneider
What/Who to Watch
- The Devils power play has been displayed early and often thus far- partly due to the crackdown on face-off violations. The Devils’ power play is only 1/19 this year. I know it’s only preseason, but it would certainly be nice to see the Devils become more efficient on the man-advantage as the regular season swiftly approaches.
- Forward Jimmy Hayes was signed by the Devils on a PTO before the preseason, and will once again get a shot to showcase his skills. Hayes is scheduled to play in his third preseason game with the club, which shows the Devils are certainly giving him a chance to succeed. After taking three minors in the Devils first preseason game, Hayes bounced back on Thursday by scoring a goal and being one of the best players on the ice. It’ll be interesting to see if Hayes can build on his performance Thursday night and earn a permanent spot on the club.
- Devils rookie forward Jesper Bratt has certainly been a pleasant surprise this preseason. The sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft has been efficient in his first two preseason games, racking up three points (2G, 1A) and a +5 rating. Bratt has emerged as a surprising dark horse to make the team, so it’ll be interesting to see if he continues building on his early momentum.
- The Devils defense is something to monitor as cuts continue to roll in with the regular season approaching. Tonight, rookie defenseman Will Butcher gets another shot to try and cement a spot on the season-opening roster. There’s only seven or eight spots available, so with the play of Steven Santini and Dalton Prout early on the preseason, the pressure is certainly on Butcher. I wouldn’t be surprised if Butcher is in the AHL come the regular season. The only way to avoid this for Butcher is to turn up his play, tonight he’ll get that chance.
Tonight’s game can be seen on MSG+2 or MSG at 7:00 PM.