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Game Preview #58: Islanders at Devils

NHL: Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils
Coach Hynes, probably upset behind the bench.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

After a low-energy performance against the Senators, the Devils look to rebound with a good performance against the Islanders

The Matchup: The New York Islanders (26-20-10 SBN: Lighthouse Hockey) vs. the New Jersey Devils (24-23-10)

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

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

The Last Devils Game: A low-energy effort against the Senators led to a 3-0 loss for the Devils. Cory Schneider played well. Not many other players even showed up. The scoring opened in the second off a Dion Phaneuf power-play goal. Erik Karlsson followed this up in the third off a shot in the point which trickled by Schneider, before Kyle Turris iced the game with an empty-netter to make it 3-0. Schneider made 32 saves on 34 shots, and the Devils only put up 21 shots. Overall, the game was disappointing to watch as a Devils fan. My recap is here.

The Last Islanders Game: The New York Islanders defeated the Rangers 4-2, ending the Rangers six game winning streak. The Rangers started off the scoring, with defenseman Nick Holden scoring his 9th of the season on a two-on-one. The Islanders responded in the second, with goals from Anders Lee and Andrew Ladd to make the game 2-1 in favor of the Islanders. Nikolay Kulemin then added a shorthanded goal, before Jimmy Vesey responded to make it 3-2. However, Andrew Ladd sealed the game with an empty net goal to give the Islanders a 4-2 win.

The Last Devils-Islanders Game: There hasn’t been one yet this season, surprisingly enough. This is the first time we’ll see our rivals all year, and we’ll see them three more times after this, including tomorrow.

The Goal: Figure out what we’re aiming for. This home-and-home series likely defines the season for the Devils, and will help determine if the Devils are sellers. Personally, I’d rather see the Devils lose, as I just don’t see the Devils jumping the other teams in the playoff hunt. Furthermore, even if we do somehow make the playoffs, I highly doubt the Devils have the firepower or luck to beat teams such as Capitals and Penguins.

In terms of play, I’d like the Devils to play with more energy than was seen in the Ottawa game. I’d like for crisper passes, and better breakthrough. The Devils also need to shoot more, as the 21 shots on Condon were mostly neither dangerous or a large enough of a quantity. Much improvement needs to be made from the Ottawa game overall. That is, if the Devils are trying to win.

Devils Transactions: Yesterday, Sergey Kalinin was placed on waivers. There were many theories for this, such as recalling a forward (Blake Coleman, Nick Lappin) from the AHL, or freeing up space for when Kyle Quincey would eventually get removed from the IR. There were some rumors of the Devils having possibly having made a move, but those rumors were quickly dispelled by Hynes stating it was only to provide extra “roster flexibility.” On the year, Kalinin featured in 43 games, but only provided two goals and two assists. He’s a fixture on the penalty kill, so it wasn’t as if the Devils weren’t utilizing him. However, it appears as if his lack of offensive ability proved to be too little for the Devils to keep him. It’s likely that Kalinin passes through waivers, and I highly doubt this is his final swan song.

Who’s Hot, and Who’s Not on the Devils?: As mentioned previously, Mike Cammalleri hasn’t scored a goal in 19 games. Even as a streaky scorer, this prolonged stretch of games is unusual for a player of his caliber. At the time of his signing, it was predicted that his age would eventually catch up to him. At 34 years of age, it may be that it has now caught up to him. His decision-making and passing accuracy have faltered this season, and his role with the Devils has declined steady as a result.

As for hot Devils, Jacob Josefson seems to have found new life with the Devils. He will never be the goal scorer that was initially projected for him, but he has found a role as a 3rd-line center for this Devils team. He has six points in his last ten, and has provided quality play even before this. Him, Zacha and Noesen have discovered chemistry with each other, and he may a future for this Devils team yet.

Taylor Hall is another player performing well for this Devils team. He has six points in his last seven, and if it weren’t for the lack of scoring depth for this Devils team, he would be performing a lot better. He’s been a sensation for the Devils, and time and time again proves himself to be the best player on the ice. While the loss of Adam Larsson has hurt this Devils defense, Taylor Hall’s offense has helped save the Devils from an even worse standing this season.

Ones to Watch, Islanders: The Islanders leading point scorer unsurprisingly is John Tavares. The star forward has been a fixture on this Islanders team, and is the face of the franchise at this point. What is surprisingly is the performance of Josh Bailey. At 27 years of age, the former top-10 pick has quietly had himself the best season of his career. His 39 points already is the 2nd best points total he’s recorded in a season, and he now finds himself on the first line with John Tavares on Anders Lee.

Speaking of Anders Lee, he finds himself with 22 goals on the year, which leads the Islanders. Of course, this comes with an unsustainable 16.8% shooting percentage, which is over 4% higher than his career average. The 6th round pick has found a role on the Islanders, and has earned himself more ice time than players such as more renowned players like Andrew Ladd and Brock Nelson.

In terms of defense, Nick Leddy has proven himself an offensive staple on the Islanders defense. He has developed into a player who can be counted on to score 6-10 goals, and 40-50 points. The Blackhawks needed to make this trade to get back under the cap, but the Islanders only gave up Ville Pokka for him, which looks like a steal now. Boychuk and Leddy have formed a solid defensive pairing for the Islanders, and are a threat to watch out for in this game.

So: What are your thoughts on this game? Who would you like to replace Kalinin? Who do you think will win? Do you think Josefson has a future with this Devils team? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.