The Devils enter their third preseason game with a win and a loss behind them. Tonight they will take on the Islanders at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn where they will try to figure out where the players left in camp stand in terms of earning a spot with the big club for the upcoming season.
The Time: 7:30 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils at the New York Islanders (SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey)
Recap of the last Devils Game: New Jersey Devils (and Penalty Kill) Pulverized 0-4 in Preseason Game Against Philadelphia Flyers
Recap of the last Islanders Game: Carolina Hurricanes 4, New York Islanders 2 in final Coliseum preseason game
The Backup Goaltending Battle: Scott Clemmensen and Keith Kinkaid split the goaltending duties in the preseason opener against the Rangers. Both allowed two goals, though Kinkaid did it on fourteen shots against and was hung out to dry by the Dan Kelly - Mike Komisarek pairing, while Clemmensen just faced ten shots. Each goaltender is on a two-way deal so it will come down to who impresses in the limited preseason minutes they have to earn a spot in New Jersey for the beginning of the season.
Who's In?: As Tom Gulitti noted on his blog last night, the Devils line up is expected to be announced sometime this afternoon. Since it's the preseason I would guess that established NHL players that played in last night's game will take this one off. That means it is probably unlikely we see the top line of Mike Cammalleri, Travis Zajac, and Jaromir Jagr and maybe other forwards such as Tuomo Ruutu, Damien Brunner, Stephen Gionta, and Steve Bernier. On defense we could probably rule out Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky and possibly Eric Gelinas and Adam Larsson as they have played in two preseason games thus far and had a rough night in Philadelphia. Jon Merrill is still day to day since his collision with Ruslan Fedotenko so it seems unlikely he would feature in tonight's game.
With that said, the forwards I would expect to see tonight could include established NHL players Dainius Zubrus, Patrik Elias, Martin Havlat, Ryane Clowe, Adam Henrique, and Michael Ryder. Other players that didn't play last night and were in the same practice group as the players mentioned above include Stefan Matteau, Rod Pelley, Jordin Tootoo, Rusland Fedotenko, Tim Sestito, and Cam Janssen. Though I wouldn't rule out a player like Jacob Josefson or Reid Boucher who is fighting for a spot to suit up over the likes of Pelley, Sestito, or Janssen.
Amongst defensemen that sat out last night and were in the practice group amongst Devils not going to Philadelphia, we may see Andy Greene and Damon Severson. I suppose it's possible that tryouts Renat Mamashev or Mike Komisarek (!) make an appearance or even Tomas Kaberle who played last night. Minor leaguers Seth Helgeson and Brandon Burlon are also available for selection.
Tactically: The Devils played a careless game in Philadelphia, committing five penalties and surrendering three goals against while trying to kill those off. While it's only preseason, I think the fans (and Peter DeBoer) would like to see the Devils play a more disciplined game and be more effective on special teams than they were last night (where the power play also struggled). For the Islanders, I am interested in seeing how passive they are at defending zone entries. As Justin Bourne of theScore noted recently, the Islanders allowed teams to enter their own zone too easily last season which proved to be disastrous when coupled with the poor goaltending of Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson, and Evgeni Nabokov. While the addition of Jaroslav Halak in goal for the Isles should lead to improvement in goals allowed, I still have my eye on how the Islanders handle the opposition on zone entries. Due to it being preseason, we may see young Islander defensive prospects like former fourth overall pick Griffin Reinhart (profiled by the New York Post) and Ville Pokka.
The Islanders: We don't know their line up for tonight's game but it is notable that new signing Mikhail Grabovski skated on LW on the top line with C John Tavares and RW Kyle Okposo in the Islanders most recent preseason match. As Newsday notes, the Islanders are currently searching to find what forward trios have the most chemistry together. Besides the three I mentioned above, they are experimenting with their line up to see where players such as Nikolay Kulemin, Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner, Brock Nelson, and Anders Lee could fit in. With no game last night, all of these players seems available for selection against the Devils. Jaroslav Halak played the entire game on Wednesday but the Islanders don't play again until Tuesday so I suppose he may be available for at least part of this game.
Your Take: Once again it's preseason so it's more important to pay attention to how the players perform and in what roles than the actual result. What Devils do you hope to get another look at tonight? How do you feel about the current battle between Scott Clemmensen and Keith Kinkaid for the backup job? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!