Go to the Rock tonight! It's the first preseason game at home and this game won't be on TV.
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Rosters Will Come Later Today, But Each Are Smaller in Camp: The New Jersey Devils had the day off on Saturday. Therefore, there really isn't any indication as to who will play in this game. As for the Flyers, they held a scrimmage between NHL players and AHL players and have not played a preseason game since their big win on Thursday.
This isn't to say both teams have sat around and done nothing. Both made some difficult decisions as they each have sent cut players by sending them down to their minor league affiliates. The Devils made a larger number. All of their players put on waivers on Friday cleared, so they went with others for a total of 19 players re-assigned. Gulitti had the full details on Saturday afternoon. Most of them were players that were not expected and did not get any preseason action. Only Dan Kelly, Brandon Burlon, Rod Pelley, and Tim Sestito got a game before being moved to Albany. The Devils still have many more players to decide on. There's a three day gap after this game, I would expect most of them to be made then.
In the meantime, if I were to guess, I would think the Devils' lineup would be closer to Thursday's group. That would mean seeing Mike Cammalleri, Travis Zajac, and Jaromir Jagr having another go together along with Damien Brunner and the CBGBs getting another shot of redemption. And I do mean redemption because, well, the team was largely awful as a whole. I would like to see that, at least. I would love it if Ryane Clowe or Jon Merrill make an appearance soon; I don't want either just jumping into game one of the regular season to play off their rust.
From a tryout and "bubble" standpoint, who gets named to tonight's game will be interesting in of itself. Assuming the Devils want to use their final preseason game as a "dress rehearsal," there's not a lot of time left for those players to impress. As Tomas Kaberle and Jacob Josefson were inactive on Friday, do they just draw back in? Does Damon Severson and Reid Boucher get another game to show the coaches what they can do? Will Scott Gomez be put into the lineup to see whether his strong power play performance might be for real? Does Renat Mamashev even get a game at this point? We shall see on all of them.
Lastly for New Jersey, who we see in net is of interest. Does Cory Schneider get this game, leaving the last of the backup battle for Thursday night against the Isles? Or does Scott Clemmensen and/or Keith Kinkaid get this one to sort that out now so Schneider has the last two games to get ready? I'm confident Schneider will be ready either way. I think Kinkaid has an edge on Clemmensen, but I could see the coaches wanting to give him minutes to respond to what Kinkaid did on Friday night in Brooklyn.
As for the Flyers, they moved five more players down to the minors on Friday so they have 28 players left in camp. Frank Seravalli had the details on who went down at Broad Street Bull. He also noted that two forwards were likely to be cut among Jason Akeson, Scott Laughton, Zach Stortini, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Chris VandeVelde. I would expect some of those forwards to be included in tonight's game as part of their continued audition. Laughton was massive in Thursday's Devils-Flyers game. It would not surprise me if he's out there again to see whether he can repeat what he did a few days ago.
Sam Carchidi wrote at Broad St. Bull on Saturday that Claude Giroux is progressing but we should expect him to be out for a little while longer. If he does play this week, then we should expect him for the regular season opener. He also notes that Sean Couturier says he's ready to be active. Maybe we'll see him tonight.
So What Do I Want to See?: For starters, I want to see fewer penalties from the beginning. The Devils' penalty kill was much better on Friday night but still had to make three kills within the first half of the game. They took several calls early in the Flyers game and it put them in too deep of a hole. I want the PK to perform better, certainly; but the best kill is not to be in that position in the first place.
Almost as importantly, I want to see better puck movement from the Devils. If Peter DeBoer does go back to mostly the same lineup from Thursday's game, then that will mean everyone will have at least one preseason game under their belts. That should make them less rusty and that would aid them in being more crisp in their puck movement. Who knows what the gameplan for that game would have been. Even the best laid plans crumble if fundamental execution falters. That's what happened in the previous Devils-Flyers game and in the first period of the Devils-Isles game on Friday. The team salvaged the previous game by making their passes count and not turning opposition turnovers right back to the opposition. I want to see that tonight. A sharper game overall, sure, but that starts with the passing.
Note: I'm personally excited for this game as it'll be the first one at the Rock. The game's not on TV and it'll only be on streaming radio as far as I know now. I look forward to being in my seat in Section 1 (Row 16, Seat 5) again.
Your Take: Again, there's not much to say ahead of tonight's game as there isn't much out there regarding the state of their teams beyond the cuts they recently made. So I'd like your guesses as to what the rosters could be and what you expect in general for this game in the comments. Thank you for reading.