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Game Preview #14: New Jersey Devils vs. St. Louis Blues

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The Devils face off versus an opponent they’ve struggled mightily against - the St. Louis Blues, who have been very good this season.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Carolina Hurricanes
A dangerous man.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (9-3-1) versus the St. Louis Blues (11-3-1). SBN Blog: St. Louis Game Time.

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+2; Radio: WFAN-101.9FM/660AM

It Has to Happen Eventually: As I read from Andrew Gross at Fire and Ice:

The Devils have lost seven straight to the Blues, with an aggregate score of 24-8. In the four losses the past two seasons, the Blues outscored the Devils, 16-5. Overall, the Devils are 1-9-1 against the Blues since March 20, 2010 and their last win in the series was a 7-1 victory at The Rock on Jan. 21, 2014.

But of course, it doesn't have to happen tonight. If the Devils cannot improve upon their road trip performance, I wouldn't be surprised at a loss. The Blues are very good on offense, and have a good goaltender too.

Firepower: The Blues have four players with at least 15 points (one or more points per game). Brayden Schenn has three goals and 12 assists (how's Jori Lehtera’s one assist in nine games working out for Philadelphia?), Alex Pietrangelo has six goals and nine assists, Vladimir Tarasenko has seven goals and nine assists, and Jaden Schwartz has eight goals and 12 assists.

Brayden Schenn is playing like the player he always could have been, but apparently couldn't be in Philadelphia. After being a below average possession player in his time with the Flyers (49.6 CF%; -1.2 relative CF%), he has jumped up to a 55.0 CF%, and +6.3 relative CF%.

Ultimately, for the Devils to win, they’re going to have to keep some of this firepower in check. This might be a night you see Andy Greene playing 24, 25, or even more minutes. I also would not be surprised if Ben Lovejoy gets another start. While Lovejoy might not push play forward, he won’t break down as easily under sustained pressure as other players on the Devils. Keeping possession and creating defensive breakdowns is the key to Blues victory - and that’s something they’re capable of doing. Not allowing shifts to turn extremely defensively-heavy, and keep the Blues on their heels is the key to Devils victory.

As for Lines: The Devils had no practice yesterday, and will have no morning skate today. John Hynes stated (taken from the same article as above):

“We did not red-eye home, get a good night’s sleep and we’ll give them the morning off on Tuesday. But they’ve got to be self-starters. It’s us providing the right environment for them to get off the trip but they’ve got to be ready to play Tuesday night.”

And in regards to injury updates:

Having a couple days off (last game 11/4 versus Toronto), I would expect the Blues to be starting Jake Allen. As for the Devils, I would expect them to start Cory Schneider. Due to the lack of Devils practice, there’s not much more I can say about them. When John Hynes gives an update, I’ll post in the comments.