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Preseason Game Preview #1: New Jersey Devils at Boston Bruins

Preseason begins today and the New Jersey Devils will kick off their seven game warm-up with the Boston Bruins in Providence, Rhode Island. This short preview highlights some of the Devils that will be playing tonight among other thoughts.

Eric Gelinas will play tonight. Milan Lucic can't for Boston.  But it's a preseason game tonight, yes it is.
Eric Gelinas will play tonight. Milan Lucic can't for Boston. But it's a preseason game tonight, yes it is.
Al Bello/Getty Images

Today is the beginning of the NHL Preseason. And the "marquee" game will take place tonight in Providence, Rhode Island where the New Jersey Devils will take on the Boston Bruins.

The Time: 7:00 PM EDT

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+ locally and NHL Network for out-of-market coverage.

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils at the Boston Bruins (SBN Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder)

Since this is the preseason, these previews will be relatively short and focusing more on the Devils than their opponents.  Fortunately, the Devils organization has inadvertently did sites like this one some solids with respect to coverage.  First, on the first two days of actual on-ice training camp, the team had some scrimmages.  This is common. What is uncommon is that someone at the Devils organization taped them and uploaded them to YouTube. So here's the scrimmage from the first day:

And the scrimmage from yesterday, during the open practice for the fans:

Second, the Devils announced their roster for tonight's game on Saturday through their official website. Here's the breakdown by position, the number in parentheses are my count:

Goaltenders (2): Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood

Defensemen (8): Jon Merrill, David Schlemko, Damon Severson, Seth Helgeson, Reece Scarlett, Eric Gelinas, Colton White, Jacob Sweeney

Forwards (12): Adam Henrique, Tuomo Ruutu, Jacob Josefson, Lee Stempniak, Kyle Palmieri, Pavel Zacha, Paul Thompson, John Quenneville, Sergey Kalinin, Matt Lorito, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Joseph Blandisi

That's 22 skaters heading up to Rhode Island.  Two are going to have to be scratched unless 22 skaters are allowed to dress in preseason. I don't think that changes, so I would guess the latter two on that list of defensemen would be scratched.  I'd guess it would be the amateur try-out, Jacob Sweeny, and prospect Colton White. I don't think either has any real shot at making New Jersey, so it's not an issue if they're not active tonight.  In any case, this is not a NHL roster.  Part of it is. Kinkaid will definitely be in New Jersey, four the defensemen will be, and four of the forwards will only skate for New Jersey.  The rest are unknowns, prospects, try-outs, and minor leaguers.

Among this roster, there are a couple of a names to keep an eye on.  Seth Helgeson can use this game to try to show he's closer to David Schlemko on the depth chart than, say, Reece Scarlett.  Lee Stempniak is one of the two veterans in camp on a try-out, so this game is a good opportunity to show he still belongs in the NHL.  A good showing for Paul Thompson would help his case to be involved with the Devils, even if only as a first or second-choice call-up.  This will be the preseason debuts for Pavel Zacha and Sergey Kalinin.  With Zacha, the appeal is to see how he fits in a sort-of real game situation. With Kalinin, it's to see whether he can hang at this level.  As the Devils have seven preseason games, this night won't necessarily make or break anyone's chances.  However, a good first impression is better than a good second or third impression; especially as cuts may be made during the off-days this week.

It will also be of interest to check out how the Devils play.  The result of this game doesn't really matter. The Devils will likely give minutes to both Wedgewood and Kinkaid, the Bruins will probably do the same, and you'll see some player combinations for tonight that only lasts for tonight.  Even if the quasi-Bruins mop the floor with the quasi-Devils, the point of these games are to get everyone prepared for the season.  In this sense, this will be the first chance to see how John Hynes and his staff may operate.  We should see enough breakouts, forechecking, entries and exits, and special teams situations to get a taste of what to expect when hockey that counts begins in over two weeks.  The tactics may shift due to the level of talent, but the general philosophies will likely be consistent throughout all games.  That's something to look for throughout preseason, and that will begin tonight.

As for the opposition, the Bruins will announce their roster on their official website this morning.  I would anticipate a similar line up for them.  With eight preseason games, there's no need to stack the roster with NHLers and call-up NHLers.  You'll see some prospects, some minor leaguers, and some legitimate B's tonight.  Like every team in the league, there are players jockeying for positions and hoping for jobs. Caryn Switaj at the Bruins official site had a good article on that yesterday. Maybe some of the players mentioned there will be on the ice this evening. We'll see.

What do you expect to see out of the Devils players tonight? Who are you most excited to see? Are you planning to check this game out on TV? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this game in the comments. Thank you for reading and welcome the beginning of the preseason.