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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils at the Carolina Hurricanes

On the end of a back-to-back, the Devils look to move past Carolina with a win.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (8-8-2) at the Carolina Hurricanes (8-8-3)

The Time: 5:00 PM

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

Keep It Up: If the Devils beat teams in the run of play like they did last night, they should get a win most of the time. The Carolina Hurricanes are not as bad as the Detroit Red Wings, although their goaltending is horrendous. If the Devils can come anywhere close to their chance differential from last night, it will be a fun night.

He Finally Did It: Pavel Zacha scored a goal. I’m glad that I won’t have to mention him not having any points for the rest of the year. Now, he will have an opportunity to build on what he did last night. Carolina does not have a whole lot of forward depth (Jeff Skinner’s 21 points in 20 games says hello), so tonight should feature a workable matchup for his line.

Who Will Be Starting?: Keith Kinkaid played yesterday, but Cory Schneider has been pretty bad this calendar year. On one hand, if I were John Hynes, I would consider giving Keith Kinkaid the start based on the fact that the game this evening is a division matchup. On the other hand, there are not many offenses that would give Schneider a chance to get going better than Carolina’s offense. In the name of not running Kinkaid into the ground, I’d say there’s a somewhat greater chance Cory Schneider gets the start. However, we will not know until around 3:00 PM.

Nico Back?: Nico Hischier missed the past few games due to an upper body injury, and in his absence Travis Zajac has manned the top line, putting together some good performances. Pavel Zacha and Brett Seney centered the middle six lines, and they had varied success. Nico Hischier made the trip tonight, which means one of them will either move to wing or be bumped down a line. I’m not entirely sure if Hischier will be reunited with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri, but I think he should be. Travis Zajac, while great enough right now to play top minutes, should be allowed the opportunity to carry his own line for the good of the team.

Who sits?: These were the starters yesterday:

If Nico plays tonight, I think either Stefan Noesen or Jean-Sebastien Dea will sit. Since Pavel Zacha is no longer pointless, I can’t imagine it will be him, as John Hynes will likely be counting on him to play middle six. I think which player sits depends mostly on whether Seney or Zacha is moved to wing or not. If so, Noesen is the likely scratch. If not, I’d imagine Dea gets scratched.

Your Thoughts: How do you want to see the lines if Hischier plays tonight? Should Travis Zajac stay on the top line, or should he be reunited with the second line? Would it be a good idea to stimulate Zacha’s game some more by putting him on the wing? Will the Devils be able to consistently crack the Carolina defense? Can they shut down Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen? Could this be the game Cory Schneider wins? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.