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Preseason Game Preview #4: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders

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The New Jersey Devils will play their first preseason game at The Rock against a split New York Islanders squad. This preview touches on who can't play for New Jersey, what changes are at the arena, and that this game won't be on TV.

These players may not be playing tonight, but the teams face off again tonight. Without TV.  Really.
These players may not be playing tonight, but the teams face off again tonight. Without TV. Really.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If a game isn't on TV, then does it actually happen? Well, yes. Yes it does.

The Time: 7:00 PM EDT

The Broadcast: TV - Nope.  Radio - WFAN.com only

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (0-3-0) vs. the New York Islanders (2-1-0; SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey)

The Last Devils-Islanders Game: On Wednesday night, the Devils went to Brooklyn to play the Islanders.  It was a bad start for the Devils. Cory Schneider turned a puck over during a power play to gift Brock Nelson a shorthanded goal early on.  Later, John Tavares set up Travis Hamonic for a blast through the high slot. The Devils looked second-rate regardless of who the Isles threw out there in the first period. Fortunately, the Devils would respond with a better performance in the second period. They played like they were down two goals.  After a very long in their end of the rink during a penalty kill, Lee Stempniak was able to counter with a 2-on-1 with Jim O'Brien coming out of the box. Stempniak took a shot, Kevin Poulin couldn't get all of it, and Stempniak took the rebound around for a wraparound goal.  The third period was much tighter and the Devils made a late push for an equalizer, but it was not to be.  The Devils lost 1-2 in their most respectable performance yet.  My recap of the loss is here. For an opposition opinion, Dominik had this about the game - and touches upon a media beef about the food.

The Split: The Islanders' website states they're playing the Flyers. The Devils' website states they're playing the Isles. How can this be? Easy. The Islanders are splitting their training camp roster to play both at about the same time.  It's unknown who will be playing where.  A part of me wants to guess that the Isles roster tonight will be different than the one from Wednesday, but I base that on nothing.  Either way, it won't be a full NHL lineup as the Isles are still evaluating their many players still in camp.

The Back-To-Back Last Chance for Some: The Devils already sent seven players back to juniors and demoted seven players to Albany.  While there are a lot of players still in camp looking to make the New Jersey Devils, the next set of cuts is nigh.  The Devils will play the Isles tonight and the Rangers on Saturday, which is followed by a three day break before facing Philly next Wednesday.  Next week only has two preseason games and I would bet on John Hynes to want to use a roster closer to the starting lineup on October 9 for at least one of those games.  A lot of cuts could be coming soon so these two games will likely be the last chance for fringe players to make their mark for this year. This isn't to say we won't see them again in 2015-16, but they'll be elsewhere to start.  If there's a reason to see this game this live or listen to it online, then this is it.

Who You Won't See, A.K.A. Injuries: On Thursday, Tom Gulitti reported at Fire & Ice that Hynes stated that Patrik Elias will be out throughout all of preseason. His sore knee is not only keeping him away from these games, but it's putting his status for opening night in doubt.  I've been saying he's been declining as a player for about a season now; not being able to get in some exhibition games certainly won't help him come strong in 2015-16.   In that same article, Hynes had updates on David Schlemko, Brandon Burlon, and Paul Thompson that were more positive. He thinks Schlemko will be ready for next week's games; Burlon is expected to practice today, and Thompson could be practicing either today or tomorrow.  Fortunately, there's no word on Eric Gelinas or Pavel Zacha being hurt as they got stung with shots in the Isles game on Wednesday.  Whether they would have played tonight is another question.

Who would be playing tonight?  It's unknown as of Thursday evening. With a back-to-back and decisions for cuts coming up soon, we could see a mix of the rosters that played in the last three games just for the coaches to make further evaluations.   It will be clearer later today.

The Rock Has Changes: The NHL mandated the use of metal detectors in every arena.  I'm not sure why. The security staff at the Prudential Center always had metal detecting wands and checked everyone coming in. I figured that would be sufficient. Apparently not. Therefore, be prepared for that as you enter.

Also, there are other changes on the main concourse according to an email sent out to all Devils Members.  Here's the run down. There will be a new bar opening at Section 18 called The Jack Daniels Bar. It will be open tonight. The Bud Light Bar will be moved to behind Section 7, though that is planned to open on December 1.  The Goal Bar area is under transformation for premium seating.  With locker room renovations, the Devils players will enter and exit through the tunnel in Section 16.  The Little Devils Zone is also under renovation, it's moving to the Youth Hockey Corner across from Section 18. Lastly, there will be a new Devils Den Team Store featuring '47 Brand merchandise behind Section 7 that will open on October 9.

What I'd Like To See: I want to see further improvement from the Devils regardless of who's out there tonight.  They were a little better on puck control and passing on Wednesday, but it can be better. They were a little better on special teams, but it can be much improved (e.g. stop dumping the dang puck on power plays).  They put up a very good effort in the second period, I want to see them do it more in the first and third periods. They only took five penalties on Wednesday, I'd like even fewer calls.  I'm not angling for a win as the performances are more important. I want to see - or, rather, hear - that the game was better from New Jersey in these aspects.

Your Take: What do you think will happen tonight?  Who do you want to play? Will you go to the game, and if so, will you tell us about it later? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this game in the comments. Thank you for reading.