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Game Preview #31: New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens

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After shutting down the Kings, the Devils go to Montreal to face the Canadiens, who are at the end of a five-game homestand.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at New Jersey Devils
Cory Schneider faces a below average offense tonight. Can the defense keep the danger of shots low tonight?
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (17-9-4) at Montreal Canadiens (13-14-4). SBN Blog:

The Time: 7:30 EST.

The Broadcast: MSG+2

No Taylor Hall: The good news is: Taylor Hall does not have any structural knee damage, and is day-to-day. The bad news is: Taylor Hall will not travel to Montreal.

MoJo to IR: Marcus Johansson has been plagued by injury problems with the New Jersey Devils. That seems like it will continue into the future. He has been placed on IR with an ankle bruise. Since Kyle Palmieri will not be playing in Montreal today, Ray Shero saw it fit to bring up a player from Binghamton rather than play seven defensemen.

Rundown on Lappin: Nick Lappin has 12 goals and six assists with 57 shots (21.1 shooting percentage). This was what was said about him in the Binghamton Devils 1st Quarter Grades & Player Evaluations, which was posted on November 30.

Unquestionably the best player on the team. He's as deserving of the C as Kearns is, especially having worn an A in nearly every game this season while coach tests the waters. Occasionally a victim of there being little scoring depth behind him outside of Quenneville and the aforementioned Kearns, but Nick's keeping the pace better than anyone.

I’m sure some people would have wanted to see John Quenneville get the call-up. However, Lappin seems to be a merited choice.

Riding High: Coming off a great game versus the Los Angeles Kings, the Devils need to make sure their performance does not dip so much without their leading scorer Taylor Hall. That means other players have to step up tonight. So, let’s look at the line combinations that Hynes tried yesterday.

I’m not really sure what the lines will look like with Lappin - whether it be a rearrangement of the bottom six or inserting Lappin where Palmieri was skating. If the latter, I don’t see the third line being useful. If the rookies can carry the team tonight with their playmaking, however, the Devils might win. Also, Cory Schneider gets the start tonight.

Canadiens Issues: The Canadiens have been a bit inconsistent in the goaltending department. Carey Price is 8-9-2 with a .899 save percentage and 3.16 goals against average. However, during Montreal’s recent winning streak, he looked like the best goalie in the league. Whichever one we see tonight may depend more on how the team in front of him plays. Despite the Canadiens not being a terrible possession team, they have 84 goals for and 98 goals against. They simply do not have the skill, and perhaps not enough defensive depth after Shea Weber, to compete against good NHL teams. Perhaps letting Radulov and Markov go were not their best decisions.

Your Take: What do you think of the Canadiens this year? Will they get into the playoffs? If so, will they squeak in or get in comfortably? How do you want to see the Devils go about this game? Should they play more defensively without Hall or let the young players go at it offensively? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.