Welcome back to hockey.
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: No Devils home television broadcast. CSN-DC will broadcast for the Washington Capitals. According to Andrew Gross of The Record, there will be no radio broadcast for the Devils tonight, either.
Who the Teams Will Dress:
Impressions of the Lineup: One of the things I took note of about the Devils’ camp so far was that Andy Greene has been consistently getting paired with Damon Severson. With that said, I found it slightly surprising that Severson would be playing this game, rather than someone whose spot is more up for debate, such as Steve Santini. The scrimmage pair I can immediately identify out of the defensemen playing is Moore-Butcher, as the only pairings I’ve seen Andrew Gross mention are the two I’ve mentioned as well as Mueller-Lovejoy.
As for the forwards, the main thing tonight is to see how well Marcus Johansson and Nico Hischier do at center. While John Hynes has stated that the three candidates to replace Zajac on the top line are Henrique, Johansson, and Zacha - I would be surprised if the lines aren’t shifted around today. Regardless, I look forward to seeing Hall play with at least one of Johansson and Hischier - but hopefully both.
Given the groups of players at camp, and the list of players who be in the game tonight, it appears that two defensemen and five forwards will be from Group A, two defensemen and one forward from Group B, and three defensemen and seven fowards from Group C. I would not imagine that defensemen from Group A nor Group C would necessarily be paired with each other, as Severson and Dalton Prout (A) are both right-handed shots, and Mirco Mueller, Michael Kapla, and Yaroslav Dyblenko (C) are all left-handed shots. Though, Kapla has been said to be able to play the right side, so keep that in mind during the game if you see him there.
As for forwards, given Andrew Gross’ various tweets: known linemates for Nico Hischier are John Quenneville and Jimmy Hayes. Other known linemates are Joseph Blandisi and Nick Lappin. However, practice lines likely aren’t too great to go off of in terms of predicting game lines in this instance.
Battles: The top line center replacement battle begins tonight, with Johansson making his opening argument for the position. The endeavor to find the defensemen not named Andy Greene, Damon Severson, or Ben Lovejoy will also start with this game. Keith Kinkaid will look to further solidify his place as backup goaltender. One of the Devils’ PTOs, Jimmy Hayes, will be playing for his continued place in the NHL. Everyone else who does not have a definite roster spot is relatively young and may not have as much hinging on these next few games as someone like Hayes, but in sports so too comes hunger, and hunger is something that the Devils would like to see more of this year.
The Opposition: The Washington Capitals are certainly playing this game with as much youth and inexperience as possible. In fact, coach Barry Trotz has stated the first two games of the Capitals preseason will feature the minimum number of veterans in each (eight). With all of their veteran departures during the offseason, it should come as no surprise that they aren’t wasting time playing too many big names. It seems the reason that, given what Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post has written, John Carlson is probably playing tonight is to begin trying potential partners out for this season, as Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen are apparently set to continue to operate the top pairing, with Brooks Orpik on the third pairing. The only other defenseman I recognize on the Capitals is Taylor Chorney, though he’s likely an extra defenseman at most. Another notable for the Capitals is the debut of Alex Chiasson, who signed a PTO with them on September 9. With the departures of Justin Williams to Carolina and trading Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils, there’s a winger slot open that Chiasson may have a good chance of filling. Expect the goaltenders for Washington to be Braden Holtby and Vitek Vanecek. Vanecek was the 2014 2nd round pick of the Capitals, and posted a .909 save percentage with the Hershey Bears last season.
The Goal: Don’t get injured, but play competitively. For a team in as much flux as the New Jersey Devils, there are positions to be won. However, I would most just want to see the players get themselves prepared mentally for the upcoming season.
Your Take: What would you like to see from the Devils tonight? Are there any specific players you are interested to see? Anyone aside from Hischier, Johansson, and Butcher? Do you have any thoughts on the Capitals’ defenseman situation? Feel free to leave comments with your thoughts.