This is the first and only back-to-back set of the preseason for New Jersey. Both are on the road and both against teams with some kind of orange. The first has more of it.
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+ (Yes, this is on TV)
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils at the Philadelphia Flyers (SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey)
The Schneider: As of Wednesday night, not much is known about the Devils lineup with one exception. Cory Schneider will start this game. As Tom Gulitti reported at Fire & Ice on Wednesday afternoon, Schneider will not only start but the expectation is that he'll play the whole game. Scott Wedgewood will back him up but that's all. I'm not surprised at this tandem stepping in. Scott Clemmensen and Keith Kinkaid are in direct competition for the #2 spot behind Schneider, they both played on Monday, and they will likely play on Friday night in Brooklyn. I'm a little surprised Schneider will be in net for the full 60 minutes. Preseason is a good time as any to give someone lower on the depth chart some minutes to see what they could do. Then again, I never really expected Wedgewood to really be anything other AHL-bound. If Schneider playing the full game gets him more ready, then it makes sense to give him the game now as opposed to cramming it in at the end of preseason.
The Cuts: The Devils did make a few cuts. On Wednesday afternoon, after the Devils-Flyers held an AHL & rookie scrimmage, the team announced their junior players will go back to their respective teams. The Devils are loaded with signed players already and more loaded with tryouts. There was never any real chance for a junior player to make a case to stay in the NHL. The Flyers went deeper with their cuts on Wednesday night, though. Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer at Broad St. Bull reported that Philly sent three players back to junior and 19 players to their AHL squad. Carchidi noted that they still have plenty of players in camp so more cuts are on the way. Still, it is possible we may see holdovers like Scott Laughton, Shane Gostisbehere, Sam Morin, and Taylor Meier.
Who's In?: With no other details available regarding lineups, that information will come out later today. For New Jersey, I would expect many of the veterans who didn't play in New York to be in tonight. I would think tonight would be a good night for Jaromir Jagr, Travis Zajac, and Mike Cammalleri to get their first bit of competition this year. The threesome have been practicing together. For the same reasons, we could see the others. I am interested in seeing how Damien Brunner does since it may be in his best interest to secure a position in the lineup to show he can go right away. Defensively, we should see Andy Greene (yay), Bryce Salvador (sigh), and Marek Zidlicky (OK). As I don't think either will be as bad as Mike Komisarek was on Monday. Keep an eye out for any repeat players from Monday and tryouts. Scott Gomez and Renat Mamashev haven't been in action yet; it would be a bad sign if either didn't play in this back-to-back set.
I wouldn't hold your breath on seeing Jon Merrill play, though. As Gulitti reported on Wednesday at Fire & Ice, he's been exercising but not practicing. Without practice, I highly doubt he'll be put into a game. I'm not all that concerned about his situation provided he gets into some of the games next week. If he's still out and not practicing next week, then I'd start getting a little concerned about his status.
Tactically: I'd like to see New Jersey attack the slot as much as they did in New York. They were doing a good job at what they were good at doing last season: getting the puck deep and winning pucks on offense. They did mix it up with several successful carries and rushes. What stood out to me was how often guys in red were driving to the middle. It paid off with three deflections for goals. I don't think that will repeat for tonight's, but I'd like to see that sort of pressure on offense again. At worst, it'll draw attention to the middle and leave more space elsewhere, which is beneficial for when the Devils move the puck to the points after getting the puck in the corners. At best, they'll be in prime position for rebounds, tips, and dangerous shots.
Your Take: There's not much, but it's preseason. It's suggested to pay more attention to what the players do than the result, regardless of the fact that the opponents are the Second Rate Rivals. Who do you want to see on New Jersey? What are your expectations? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this game. Thank you for reading this short preview.