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Game Preview #57: Devils vs. Senators

The Devils, winners of three of their last four, face a very good Ottawa team. Here’s the preview.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Ottawa Senators
Dion Phaneuf and Travis Zajac, in the last Senators game.
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Devils, having won against Colorado, face Ottawa tonight (February 16, 2017. I really messed this up.)

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (24-22-10) vs. the Ottawa Senators (29-19-6 SBN Blog: Silver Seven Sens)

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - WFAN 660 AM and The One Jersey Network

The Last Devils Game: After getting destroyed by the Sharks, the Devils faced a considerably weaker Colorado team. Colorado showed how bad they were this season, and allowed the Devils to get 40 shots on goal. In the first, Pavel Zacha scored off a Jacob Josefson shot, and the Devils led 1-0 entering the second. Mark Barberio tied it up for the Avalanche, but a little over two minutes later Andy Greene scored on the power play to make it 2-1. Palmieri and Grigorenko then traded goals, and the score was 3-2 entering the third. The Devils held on, and ended up winning the game with that score.

The Last Senators Game: The Senators fell 3-2 against Buffalo. Ryan O’Reilly started the scoring for Buffalo, with his 12th of the year. Bobby Ryan then scored his 12th of the year to tie the game up. A pretty Dion Phaneuf play made it 2-1, but that was all the offense Ottawa would muster. Our old Islanders enemy Matt Moulson, along with Justin Bailey, scored for Buffalo, and Buffalo would win the game 3-2.

The Last Devils-Senators Game: On the 17th of December, the Senators beat the Devils 3-1 in Ottawa. Bobby Ryan, Derrick Brassard and Zack Smith had the goals for the Senators. John Moore had the lone Devils goal. Keith Kinkaid played in this game, and performed very well, with 27 saves on 29 shots. Unfortunately, Mike Condon played better, with a 30 save performance (Thank you for the correction, the Grammar National Socialist German Worker named Thunderous Crusading).

The Goal: If we lose, at least play well. At this point, as mentioned by PA Parenteau, this stretch of upcoming games will determine if the Devils will sell their players. If the Devils lose, at least hope that PA Parenteau plays well so as to increase his trade value. This is a strong Senators team, which features good depth all around, with a star defenseman as well. Dion Phaneuf is playing more like he did 3-4 years ago, and it looks like Ottawa has won that trade in at least the short-run.

The Rumor Mill: I like this section that Mike added yesterday. On the Devils side, it’s unknown as to whether the Devils will be buyers or sellers. There were rumblings that the Devils were looking to acquire Kevin Shattenkirk, but I’m highly skeptical that the Devils would be able to outbid other teams for him. The Senators have confirmed that they have spoken to the Avalanche, but appear to believe that the asking price is too high for Landeskog/Duchene. Curtis Lazar is a name that was dangled in the past, but appears to have quieted down as of late.

Ones To Watch: Aside from a very bad game against the Sharks, Kyle Palmieri has woken up from an early-season slump. Whereas 20 goals was questionable earlier in the year, it is now nearly certain that he’ll reach that mark. Jacob Josefson, Pavel Zacha and Stefan Noesen continue to play well together, and it remains to be seen if Noesen will be replaced by Beau Bennett when Bennett returns. Josefson-Zacha-Bennett was one of the Devils best lines before Bennett’s injury, so it’s unknown what will change.

According to Corsi Stats, only three players performed negatively in all situations against the Avalanche — Henrique, Greene and Lovejoy. None of this strikes me as too much of a cause for concern — we all know what Lovejoy brings to the table at this point. With the call-ups of Santini and Wood, the Devils have certainly played better since a terrible December. Is it enough for a playoff push? You be the judge of that.

On the Senators side, the usual players lead their team in points. Erik Karlsson is arguably the best offensive defenseman in the league (Though I think it’s Brett Burns), and the Stone-Turris-Hoffman line is as dangerous as ever. Surprisingly enough, Bobby Ryan is having himself a very quiet year. He’s sitting at only 21 points in 47 games, and this would be his worst year ever. He’s experienced a steady decline, and at only 29 that could be a cause for concern.

On the opposite end, Dion Phaneuf is experiencing a career revival. He’s not going to be the player that gets 15-20 goals a year anymore, but he’s sitting at 8 goals on the year already. The years before, he had 3 and 4 goals, and it looked like his career was dwindling. Now, he’s come back, and can be seen as dangerous again. He has three goals in his last four games.

Your Thoughts: What do you expect to come out of this game? Who do you think will score? Who do you think will win? Let me know in the comments below, and have a good day.

I’m sorry for my mistake in posting this a day early. I’ll also try my best to “Make Game Previews Great Again” (frenchtickler24). Anyway, same thoughts apply as before.