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Game Preview #12: New Jersey Devils vs. Carolina Hurricanes

After beating them 4-1 on Sunday, the New Jersey Devils will host a re-match against Carolina Hurricanes. This post previews this second half of a home-and-home set between these two teams.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils
Let’s see more goals like this!
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

This is the rematch from Sunday. Prediction: No one is going to shoot 100% on all of their shots in a period again.

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (5-3-3) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (3-5-3; SBN Blog: Canes Country)

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Digital Audio Broadcast - The One Jersey Network

The Last Devils & Carolina Game: These two teams just played each other on Sunday evening in Raleigh. The pace was brisk and the run of play favored Carolina. Especially in a second period where the Hurricanes out-shot the Devils 14-2. Amazingly, the Devils led after two periods up 2-0. Both of those shots went in. The first was a beautiful one-timer from the right circle from Michael Cammalleri. Travis Zajac made a great pass and Cammalleri had space for seemingly days to finish it. Later, Cammalleri scored off a rush up ice. Then it took until the third period for the Devils to get another shot on Eddie Lack. Minutes in, Cammalleri would take a drop pass from Beau Bennett off a criss-cross and fire a laser to the top corner. That made it three for a natural hat trick. Meanwhile, Carolina kept trying to crack Keith Kinkaid, who played very well on Sunday. Andrej Nestrasil finally did so with a jam play at the left post on one of his eight shots on net. But that would be it. Andy Greene sailed in a shorthanded empty net goal from his own slot to seal the Devils’ first road win of the season, 4-1. My recap of the win is here. For the other side, here’s Peter Dewar at Canes Country going more into depth the day after the loss.

The Goal: No, really, attack. In Devin’s preview of Sunday’s game, he noted that the goal should be for the Devils to keep firing at Carolina’s goaltenders. Cam Ward and Eddie Lack have been bad in this still-young season and it does not look like they will be any better. The Devils did not really do this, but Cammalleri put up a hat trick on Lack and shot at 100% in the second period against him. The process was not good, but the result was. In any case, Cory Lavalette of the North State Journal confirmed on Twitter that Cam Ward will start this game. He has an even strength save percentage of 89.8%. If the Devils are able to keep firing shots on target, then the goals will come.

These Teams Just Played Each Other So…: I will suggest that you should check out Devin’s preview from Sunday if you want more of an overview of what Carolina is about and who are their key players. Instead, this will be a shorter preview that focuses on a few aspects from Sunday’s game.

A Potentially Big Deal: Justin Faulk is Carolina’s top defenseman and definitely one of the better young defensemen in the NHL. He is to Carolina what Victor Hedman is to Tampa Bay if you’re looking for a comparison point. Faulk left Sunday’s game early with an injury and did not return. There is no word on whether he is healthy enough to play tonight. Lavalette tweeted that he had a MRI but there are no results yet. Carolina has a mostly young defensive corps. It bodes well for the future; but it remains to be seen if any of them can step up into Faulk’s role for tonight. It would also mean someone will draw in. Expect John Hynes to try to maximize that potential matchup given that this game is in Newark.

Now, if Faulk is perfectly fine and he does play tonight, then I would be curious as to how Hynes handles him. Faulk saw a lot of Taylor Hall and his line on Sunday and did well. I wonder if Hynes would want to keep that going. We’ll see.

Beware of Nestrasil: Carolina’s top line of Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, and Lee Stempniak should command plenty of attention by Andy Greene and Damon Severson again. That would be good as the 6-28 pairing did well in that match-up. A run-back is A-OK with me. The unit that really had fun – the wrong kind of fun - against New Jersey was Andrej Nestrasil, Joakim Nordstrom, and Jordan Staal. Nestrasil in particular went off on the Devils with eight shots on net, including the lone goal for Carolina. I would want the Devils to be careful when #15 steps on the ice for the Canes. I think he’ll make a lot of noise tonight provided the Devils do not make some kind of adjustment against that unit. They should Whatever they were doing on Sunday against them certainly did not work.

Back to Six: The Devils called up defenseman Vojtech Mozik for their three-game road trip. He did not play in a single game and so he was sent back to Albany on Monday. Andrew Gross had a short post about that at Fire & Ice on Monday. He was essentially there for cover in case someone got hurt. The play of Ben Lovejoy, John Moore, and Kyle Quincey was apparently acceptable enough for the coaches to keep call ups (Mozik, Steve Santini earlier in October) on the bench. Change may be coming soon as Jon Merrill should be returning from his injury in the near future. It remains to be seen, though, whether Merrill is a significant improvement over either of those three defensemen. For tonight, the Devils will have the six defensemen who have played in every single game so far in this season.

Lineup Guesses: The Devils were off on Monday (as per Gross), so there is no word on whether the Devils’ lineup will change. I would think it is a safe bet that Cory Schneider will start this game. Kinkaid played very well on Sunday; but he was in that game because Schneider played in Tampa Bay on Saturday night. Schneider should start this one and be very good because Schneider is very good at what he does. Elsewhere in the lineup, there are a few questions at forward. On Sunday, head coach John Hynes put in Reid Boucher and Jacob Josefson in the lineup in place of Devante Smith-Pelly and Sergey Kalinin. I thought Josefson was OK. Boucher, less so. Does each get another game? If not, who comes in for who? And, related to that, where does Pavel Zacha play? I believe he was a winger with Josefson in the lineup on Sunday; does that continue? Lastly, the coaches felt highly enough of Nick Lappin’s abilities to give him a bump in ice time as well as shifts on both PP and PK situations. Does that also continue? We will find out for sure either later this morning or just as the game begins.

One Last Thought: The Devils should seek to set the tone early. I would think Carolina would be unhappy with how they lost on Sunday. While they carried most of the play, they ended up on the wrong end of a hat trick for a regulation loss. Carolina is last in the division and these games especially hurt because points dropped to the Devils are points dropped to a team in front of them. If they want to have any playoff hopes in 2016-17, then they have to avoid falling into a hole early on in the season. It is too early to bury anyone’s chances, but I would have to think the message the Canes players will be receiving tonight are to really go out there and prove a point. Otherwise, they’ll have 0-for-4 to start their week and be even further behind. To that end, I would like the Devils to be initiators and ideally build up a lead if/when Carolina becomes aggressive. Of course, I’d like the Devils to keep attacking to keep the game from being another night of “Can Schneider Keep This Lead Mostly By Himself?” All the same, I don’t want the Devils to have to proverbially punched in the mouth and play from behind against a Canes squad motivated by getting their win back.

Your Take: The New Jersey Devils will have a re-match with Carolina, but in Newark tonight. Hopefully, the Devils come away with another win. Do you think the Devils will get it? How do you think they’ll score more goals than the other team? What did you learn from Sunday night that you wish the Devils would learn from? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this game in the comments. Thank you for reading.