Sunny Florida has not been kind to the New Jersey Devils this season. Both trips to the sunshine state have resulted in road losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning. And to add insult to injury, the games weren’t even competitive in the slightest.
The page has turned this Monday, and the Devils are hoping that third time will be the charm, as they travel down to Miami (well close enough) to face the Florida Panthers. Last season, one point separated the Devils — who made the playoffs — from the Panthers, who just missed out after a strong second half. Now in the new season, both teams are under .500 and at the bottom of their divisions.
Players To Watch:
Keith Kinkaid: Last night, Hynes went with the winless Cory Schneider, who’s still looking for his first regular-season win since Dec. 2017. Even after the game had far slipped out of the Devil’s control, Cory could not be pulled due to the fact it was a back to back. Kinkaid has two overtime losses and a win under his belt in his last three starts, but that’s still something.
Mike Hoffman: If there’s one word that explains Mike Hoffman, it’s drama. Recently, he’s been known for the off the ice exploits of his girlfriend and another former Senator Erik Karlsson that lead to his unceremonious departure out of Ottawa. Still, he leads a bottom of the pack Panthers squad with 22 points.
Pavel Zacha: After a beyond lackluster and disappointing start to the season, and some may argue his career, Zacha appears to have found a bit of a scoring touch after a brief demotion to the AHL. Even though he was left off of the score sheet in Tampa, he’s found the back of the net in his other games since his return to the NHL.
Keys To Success:
Win In 60 Minutes: Two of the Devils last four games have been heartbreaking overtime losses. You can look at the glass half full and say that they stole a point from the Islanders, but the Detroit game was one they blew a two-goal lead in the third. The Devils are winless this season in free hockey, so if there’s any hope that they leave Sunrise, Florida with a coveted two points, it better be before the horn at the third.
Panthers Goaltending: You could argue the best player on the Panthers roster is their number one goalie Roberto Luongo, and he’s been out with an injury. With the Twitter legend being listed as day-to-day by the Panthers, the Devils will face James Reimer. The Devils should take advantage of a subpar goaltending opportunity and find the back of the net more often than they did on Sunday.
Defense: There’s the old saying that defense wins championships, but it also wins any of the 82 regular season games. The Devil’s defense has been awful at times. They got the hot-hand goalie in Keith Kinkaid in net, so if they can pull it together somewhat decently for one game, they might get a win. Remember, even though the Panthers are at the bottom of the Atlantic, they still boast a strong defensive player in Aaron Ekblad the Devils could only dream of having right now.
Dadonov – Barkov – Hoffman
Huberdeau – Bjugstad – Vatrano
Hunt – McCann – Brouwer
Haley – Lammikko – Sceviour
New Jersey Devils:
Kinkaid (starting), Schneider
Where to Watch: 7:00 on the NHL Network and MSG+
Statement Games Statement Picks:
Total Goals UNDER 5.5
NJ Will Win By Over 1.5 Goals
Taylor Hall+Kyle Palmieri+Nico Hischier OVER 0.5 Goals
Predictions: Tonight you’re going to see two bottom of the division teams go against each other, but the Devils have a slight advantage with Kinkaid over Reimer. It won’t be pretty, or even entertaining at times to watch, but a 3-2 Devils victory seems right.