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Game Preview #10: New Jersey Devils vs. Arizona Coyotes

Looking for win number eight of October, the New Jersey Devils look to finish the opening month strong against what has so far been the worst team in the league.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils
While the Devils should hope to not need a shootout tonight, they should hope for more of that skill from the likes of Jesper Bratt.
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Jesper Bratt is pretty good.

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (7-2-0) versus the Arizona Coyotes (0-9-1). SBN Blog: Five For Howling

The Time: 7:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV: MSG+

Return of Raanta?: Antti Raanta has not played since the 12th of October. This is significant because the other Arizona goalies - Louis Domingue and Adin Hill - have combined for a .866 save percentage in their six starts and nine total appearances. Since the Arizona Coyotes are looking to get their first win, the return of their starting goaltender might give them a boost they need to compete for it. He will be a game day decision.

Rough Start: October has been impossibly bad for the Arizona Coyotes. Off to the worst start in franchise history, their most recent game was against the New York Rangers, which they lost 5-2. For more on that game, here’s a recap from Five For Howling. The team has scored 23 goals on the season while allowing 44, and their non-Raanta goalies have been abhorrent. However, the team still has some promising talent. Clayton Keller leads all rookies in points with 11, and with players like Max Domi, Derek Stepan, and a defense that was supposed to be improved from last season during the offseason, the team was not supposed to be this bad.

Speaking of Goalies...: Cory Schneider might be making his return from his lower body injury and the birth of his daughter. His status for the game tonight is up in the air.

Other Lines Issues: According to Andrew Gross of The Record, Kyle Palmieri is walking around with a boot. Keep that in mind for whether he plays after his evaluation in the skate today. John Hynes will give the media his lineup updates (or lack thereof) and his decision on the starting goaltender - Schneider or Keith Kinkaid - at 4:45 ET.

And while there was no practice to go off of yesterday, the lines that were used in the beginning of the game were the same as the practice lines from Thursday. Therefore, here are some lines handwritten by Amanda Stein.

Given last night’s game, which was recapped by John, I doubt that the defensive pairs stay the same. However, Hynes’ lines won’t be revealed until just over two hours before game time, so I won’t go too far with that assumption. Perhaps we will see Andy Greene with Steve Santini and Damon Severson with John Moore again, but perhaps Hynes will continue to try to build chemistry between his best two defensemen. I hope the latter route is taken, but given how poorly they played last night, I’m not sure it will be.

Hope for Tonight: I want to see two things from the Devils when playing the Coyotes tonight. First, I think Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and Drew Stafford are in need of a return to form from last night. If they manage to not get pinned in against the Coyotes top six and not concede opportunities to their best players, then the game will be much easier to win. They don’t need to carry the team offensively, but just do their job in the defensive end.

Second, I want to see the Devils third and fourth line bring the heat tonight. The Coyotes have struggled with depth this year, with their top players accounting for most of their production. If the Devils can quiet Keller and Domi, and maintain possession in the offensive zone, they will win tonight. Due to the Coyotes depth struggles, all four lines have the capability to contribute offensively. It remains to be seen how well they deal with the back-to-back, but I would hope they can beat such a struggling team.

Your Take: What do you want to see from the Devils tonight? Is there a player you’re specifically keeping your eye on? How much time do you think Rick Tocchet has with the Coyotes before he gets cut loose? Do you think Arizona will turn it around during the year? Leave your thoughts below.