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Game Preview #27: St. Louis vs. New Jersey

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After falling to the Canadiens 5-2, the Devils look to respond at home against the St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis Blues v New Jersey Devils
Alex Pietrangelo and the Blues visit the Devils today. Here’s the preview.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Matchup: St. Louis Blues (15-8-4 SBN Blog: StLouisGametime) at the New Jersey Devils (12-8-6)

The Time: 7:30

The Broadcast: TV – MSG; Radio – 660 AM & 101.9 FM WFAN; Digital Audio – The One Jersey Network

The Last Devils Game: The Devils fell to the Canadiens 5-2 yesterday. The first period was..... interesting to say the least. The first Canadiens goal was put under review twice — first to check for a high stick and the second on a coaches challenge. Eventually, the goal counted and it was a 1-0 lead for the Canadiens. Then, funnily enough, a similar situation occurred with the Devils. The refs put the Devils goal under review twice, and similarly, a good goal to tie the game. Then, this game started going downhill. Torrey Mitchell took a shot on a 2-on-1, which Schneider initially saved. However, the puck bounced off Nick Lappin, and went into the net. One play from this period that particularly stood out was when Kyle Palmieri ran into Carey Price, and Price responded by throwing punches at the defenseless Palmieri. Should that have been a game misconduct? I don’t know, but let me know what you guys think. The 2nd period featured another Canadiens goal by the stick of Arturri Lehkonen. The 3rd period opened with a Max Pacioretty goal to make it 4-1. Taylor Hall offered the Devils a glimpse of hope with a power play goal, but Torrey Mitchell responded with his 2nd of the game, and the Devils fell to the Candiens 5-2.

The Last Blues Game: The Blues fell to the Islanders 3-2 yesterday. The Blues opened the scoring, with Vladimir Tarasenko charging the net, and Robby Fabbri chipping the loose puck into the net for his 6th of the year. For Vladimir Tarasenko, this gave him 28 points in 27 games. It’s scary how good he’s become. However, after a Jori Lehtera high-sticking penalty, Anders Lee tied the game, deflecting a Nick Leddy shot for his 7th of the year. Tavares then scored an incredibly beautiful goal for his 8th of the year, giving the Islanders the lead. In the 2nd period, Kyle Broadziak temporarily tied the game with his 3rd of the year, but tonight was Anders Lee’s night. He scored his 2nd of the game in the third, giving a 3-2 lead.

Defensive Woes: The Devils have given up 3 or more goals in 7 of their last 8 games. The Devils aren’t as offensively challenged as they were last year, but this is still unacceptable. While not good at explaining statistics such as Corsi, CJ does a good job of explaining it here. To summarize, CJ mentions Greene’s decline, points out three players in Beau Bennett, Nick Lappin and Kyle Quincey, and then (sadly) points out Cory Schneider’s declining save percentage. Out of those three, I would worry least about Cory Schneider. He’s proven himself a star goalie in the past, and there’s no point doubting in him now.

St. Louis Stats?: St Louis is currently 11th in goals for, with 2.7 goals for, and 20th in goals again, with (again) 2.7 goals against. On the special teams is where they’re deadly, as they’re 8th in power play percentage, and 2nd in penalty kills. Vladimir Tarasenko leads the team in almost every stat, leading with 13 goals, tying for the lead (With Colton Parayko) with 14 assists, and 2nd in special teams points (Behind Kevin Shattenkirk). Tarasenko is in a small slump, with only 1 assist in the last three games. However, before this he had a hat trick against Tampa Bay, so he could explode any second.

If the Devils commit too many penalties, they’ll have to deal with numerous threats. The aforementioned Tarasenko and Shattenkirk, Jaden Schwartz, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo, Paul Stastny and Robby Fabbri can all seemingly score at will, and they won’t make life easy for the Devils.

If the Blues follow the same lineup as they did against the Islanders, Nail Yakupov won’t be playing again. He’s played in 17 games this season, but he hasn’t been particularly good, with only 5 points on the season. Will this be his last year in the NHL? Will he be another draft bust? Personally, I hope not, but I’m not banking on him rediscovering his potential.

The Devils: I would say changes need to be made, but I have no idea where to begin. On the Devils bench, you have your choice of either Jacob Josefson or Jon Merrill as your savior. Yeah. I don’t think a change in the line-up will do much. If I had to choose, maybe Jon Merrill in for one of Moore or Quincey? Maybe Jacob Josefson if we can make it to a shootout? All jokes aside, I have no idea what the Devils should do to address the deficiencies in the line-up. Let me know what you guys think.

Goalie Matchup: Today is likely going to be Keith Kinkaid (3-1-2, .928%) vs. Carter Hutton (2-4-1, .888%). I like how Kinkaid’s been playing recently, so I trust for him to do well in this game. Furthermore Carter Hutton has been nothing short of abysmal this season, which should hopefully (please) be good for the Devils today. Please.

Lastly: That Montreal game really did hurt to watch. Will this game be better? The optimistic side of me says yes. The realistic side of me says is unsure. The forever pessimistic side of me is scared for tonight. I’ll be writing the recap as well, and I really hope the Devils can win this time. Have a good day, and may us hope for a Devils win this time!