The Devils earned a point against the league leading Canadiens last night. They'll look to grab 2 points on the road in Montreal tonight.
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG; Radio - 880 AM CBS
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (11-9-2) at the Montreal Canadiens (18-4-2; SBN Blog: Eyes on the Prize)
Last Night: The Devils fell to the Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout loss. You can check out John's recap here. Adam Henrique and Lee Stempniak had the goals for the Devils while Cory Schneider and the Devils PK came up huge to hold off Montreal for the better part of the game. Sven Andrighetto and Alex Galchenyuk had the goals for Montreal in the second half of the game. Cory Schneider and Mike Condon each made 25 saves but it was Condon out-dueling Schneider in the shootout to earn Montreal the victory.
The Goal: Keep it simple. The Devils had the bulk of their success last night in the first two periods of play. A lot of this was due to the fact they executed their zone entries/exits well and were ready to defend Montreal's counter attacks. The few times they weren't in position to do so, Cory Schneider was able to bail them out early on. It seemed that they didn't take too many unnecessary risks in the first two periods but got a bit sloppy in the latter portion of the game. You can't give a skilled team like Montreal, that can generate offense from the forwards and defensemen, many chances since they will beat you eventually, no matter how solid your goaltender is. It's easier said than done, but I really want the Devils to focus on making higher percentage plays and trying to keep the possession game close to a 50/50 split again, like it was last night in the first two periods.
The Devils Lines: The trio of Mike Cammalleri - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak remained productive at even strength and on the power play for the Devils last night. The Devils other top 6 unit of Sergey Kalinin - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri struggled to get much going against the Canadiens last night while the newly formed 3rd line of Patrik Elias - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo will look to provide some much needed secondary scoring. The Henrique line did it's job last night against a quality team from Montreal, it would be a tough order to expect them to do it on back-to-back nights. I thought the 3rd line looked decent last night so I'm hoping they can build off of that effort and chip in tonight.
Montreal's Options: As John noted in yesterdays preview, Montreal has a lot of quality and depth from their forwards and defense. The Devils did well to limit Montreal to 2 goals last night (thanks in large part to Cory Schneider). Montreal's top trio of Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Devante Smith-Pelly was dangerous as you would expect. As was the top pairing of Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban whom I expect to be very active tonight all over the ice. Alex Galchenyuk is a rising star for Montreal and he showcased his speed and hockey IQ on his game tying goal last night. It will be interesting to see what matchups present themselves tonight and how the Devils are able to react.
Gelinas Staying In: Like it or not, #44 will be staying in the line up as David Schlemko did not travel with the team due to the birth of his second child. This will be a great opportunity for Eric Gelinas to show some resiliency after a tough game. I'm skeptical of that happening, especially since Montreal will likely look to exploit him (and Jon Merrill) on their home ice. I'd like to see Gelinas simplify his game and play a bit more conservative in this situation. I'll believe it when I see it though. As awesome as his shot is, his decision making remains extremely frustrating.
Goaltending Matchup: At the time of this writing it is unknown what the goaltending matchup could be. Schneider vs. Condon II? Kinkaid vs. Tokarski? Or some other combination? Schneider and Condon each officially saw 27 shots on goal last night in 65 minutes of play, not counting the shootout. Montreal is in a more comfortable position so they could go with the fresh goaltender in Tokarski if they so desire. While Kinkaid is a solid backup and their is a lot of evidence to suggests that teams should split goaltenders in back-to-backs, I wouldn't be surprised to see Schneider back in. He's a proven workhorse, the Devils need the points, and ideally you want your best to go against the best in the league. It will be interesting to see what these coaches decide to do on Saturday morning.
Your Take: What are your thoughts on the Devils going into tonight's game? How do you think they will play? Which players are you keeping an eye on? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!