The Time: 7:00 PM ET
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+
Moving Forward: The New Jersey Devils are in moderate trouble. There is definitely some dead weight on the team. However, there’s a chance for this team tonight. Paul Stastny, as of this time, is still out with injury. However, given the Devils’ luck for this year, I fully expect the Knights to take him off of injured reserve and stick him on the second line. The Knights do not have an outstanding offense, but their shot suppression is solid. The Devils will have to break the defensive structure of the Knights and get through to Marc-Andre Fleury, who has not been amazing this season.
At #NJDevils practice today, no changes to lines/pairings.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) December 13, 2018
• Noesen skating as extra on fourth line.
• Mueller and Santini an extra D pairing.
• Goalies in no particular order, FYI. pic.twitter.com/sD4hp5aKGL
The only thing that sticks out in here is that Will Butcher is on the second pairing with Sami Vatanen. I strongly hope Drew Stafford plays tonight instead of Stefan Noesen, because Noesen has been legitimately rough this year and needs to get straightened out before he can play. If Stafford doesn’t play well tonight, I would hope that John Quenneville gets a call from Ray Shero that sends him to Newark before tomorrow’s game.
I am also starting to wonder whether Miles Wood should be on the third line. This is not to say I have given up on Miles Wood - I think he’s just in a slump. But, I think that Wood needs to focus on playing a complete game in a fourth line role, so the team doesn’t need to rely on his ability to score in a middle six role.
The Top Line: Vegas has, as of this moment, a very balanced line structure. All four can have a positive possession differential on a night-to-night basis. However, they don’t have the firepower at the top that the New Jersey Devils have. Therefore, I’m looking at Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and Kyle Palmieri to get into their early season form tonight against a lesser top line. This is the key to breaking down the Golden Knights - they can hang with any second and third line - but they cannot hang with top talent every single night. The best they can hope for is to suppress a top line with neutral zone structure and limit the damage, which is why John Hynes needs to have his forwards forecheck very aggressively tonight.
Goalies: Fortunately for the New Jersey Devils, the Golden Knights are not in a great goaltending situation for this year. Marc-Andre Fleury is playing in below-average form, and Malcolm Subban has been very subpar in a backup role. Regardless of who the Knights put in goal, the Devils need to go to Keith Kinkaid tonight. I still do not trust Cory Schneider, as much as it continues to pain me, and for the sake of this fanbase we need our best chance to see a win tonight.
Your Take: What are your thoughts on the game tonight? Will Miles Wood fight Ryan Reaves. Will Jonathan Marchessault score a natural hat trick in the first minute? Can our top line carry the team tonight? Can Pavel Zacha find his game? How hot are the coaching seats at the moment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.