The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (3-0-0) versus the Dallas Stars (3-2-0). SBN blog: Defending Big D.
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+
Palms: Kyle Palmieri, recently robbed of a place on the NHL Three Stars of the Week, has been absolutely on fire to start the season. While I can’t expect him to continue his pace for 164 goals, he has not been scoring for no reason. The first line has been great, with an improved possession rate than last season. However, the Devils might have some trouble with that tonight.
Nico: Nico Hischier left practice early yesterday. He appears to have a mild foot injury after blocking a shot, but should play tonight versus the Stars. However, if he aggravates the pain, and has to come out mid-game, then the Devils might have trouble playing the Stars.
The Stars: Dallas has a very strong top six, with Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov having 10 points each, and Jamie Benn with eight points through five team games. If the Devils’ top six can stifle that attack, New Jersey’s bottom six has been significantly more effective than Dallas’ in the early season.
Speaking of the Bottom Six…: Jean-Sebastien Dea was spotted on the power play for the second unit in practice yesterday. Damon Severson was not practicing with the power play. While I appreciate the Devils coaching staff moving to four forwards on the power play, I would hope that Severson can make a case for himself, and be able to make competition for Sami Vatanen.
The 90-37-23 Line: Pavel Zacha’s line had a very good start to the year, being able to hold their own versus both Edmonton and Washington’s top six. However, this line did not mesh in the game on Sunday versus the Sharks. According to Natural Stat Trick’s game stats, the whole line’s Corsi for percentages was in the 20-30% range. While I think a lot of this line’s struggles had to do with Stefan Noesen last game, as I counted more than one occasion where he botched chances for the rest of the line, the whole line is going to have to pull it together in order to stay together in the long run.
The Goalies: The Dallas Stars played the Ottawa Senators last night, losing 4-1. Since Ben Bishop was in net, and the Stars are playing back-to-back road games, we will likely see their backup, Anton Khudobin. In one game this year, he has an .880 save percentage. Khudobin will almost certainly matchup against Keith Kinkaid for the Devils. Kinkaid has been very strong to start the season, and I can only hope that he keeps up his performance. Surely, Kinkaid would like to make goaltending decisions harder for the Devils for when Cory Schneider is fully recovered and game-ready.
Your Thoughts: Who are you most looking to in tonight’s game? Do you think Palmieri and Kinkaid can keep up their hot starts (to some relative degree)? How do you feel about Jean-Sebastien Dea being put on the second power play unit? Do you think the Devils are going to win tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.