The New Jersey Devils wrap up their west coast road trip early this week with a Monday night game against the San Jose Sharks. The Devils will hope to leave California behind with another road win, but their third opponent is the best of the road trip.
Just like the Kings, the Sharks are a west coast team that shouldn’t matter much to the Devils, but there’s a little bit of interesting drama between the two. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is the former Devils coach that led them to a losing effort in the 2012 Stanley Cup final. He repeated that same fate with his fate with the Sharks in 2016.
Players to Watch:
Erik Karlsson: You may know him as arguably the NHL’s best defenseman. Then again, you might know him as the centerpiece of blockbuster trade rumors for the past year and a half before he left the Canadian capital of Ottawa behind for Northern California. You couldn’t wake up any morning for an 18-month period without seeing “imminent Erik Karlsson” trade rumors trending on Twitter from unverified accounts. Just to make things interesting on Monday’s night’s matchup, one of the teams centered around the Karlsson rumors happened to be the Devils. Obviously, that’s not the way things turned out.
Kyle Palmieri: He’s still the Devil’s top scoring threat. On this California road trip with multiple-goal games in Los Angeles and Anaheim, we’re getting flashbacks to the beginning three games of the season, where he was a two-goal a game player. Will he score two against San Jose? Hopefully yes.
Brent Burns: If Karlsson isn’t the NHL’s best offensive defenseman, then that title belongs to teammate Brent Burns. He’s one point back of the San Jose team lead in points, and when he’s not scoring with a blistering shot, he’s showing off that beautiful beard of his. He’s always fun to watch and a guy who you can’t help but want to watch to play, even when he’s playing against you.
Keys to Victory:
Energy: As if being three time zones away from home isn’t bad enough, the Devils are playing on back-to-back nights. San Jose isn’t worlds away from Anaheim, but it’s not as simple as a New Jersey to New York road trip the Devils are used to. Don’t expect the Devils to come out guns a blazing, but a lazy effort all but guarantees a loss.
Consistent Offense: The Devils haven’t been scoring a whole lot, but they’ve been finding the back of the net a lot on the California road trip. First, there was a 6 goal winning effort in Los Angeles, and then a three-goal first period against Anaheim. The Devils are a feast or famine effort on offense. Goals either come in bunches or are nowhere to be found.
Road Game: Back-to-back games are tough. Rough games are tough. Putting them both together is tough. Putting them both together when you’re the 2018-19 New Jersey Devils is especially tough. Just for an added dose of irony, Sharks bench boss and former New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer was famous for shrugging off his team’s road woes during his New Jersey days by saying “tough building”.
New Jersey Devils:
Kinkaid / Schneider
San Jose Sharks:
The Devils so far only come from behind victory was against the Sharks at home earlier this season. I’m not expecting something that exciting or rare to happen again. 3-1 Sharks. If Devils can at least get a point in OT, it’ll prove successful.