The Game: Nashville Predators (21-10-1 SBNation; On the Forecheck) vs. the New Jersey Devils (11-13-6 )
The Time: 8:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: MSG+
Realistic Hopes: As has been touched on before, it’s time to ponder whether the Devils have what it takes to make the playoffs, and if they should even try anymore. After last season’s playoff surprise, the Devils have regressed significantly and are now the worst team in the East, and the 3rd worst team in the NHL. Furthermore, they have won the least amount of games in the NHL, and it is clear that players on the team are either slowing down (Andy Greene) or don’t fit what the team needs (Ben Lovejoy). Personally, I’d be hard-pressed to say the Devils will make the playoffs this season.
Nashville’s Dominance: On the other side of the spectrum, the Predators happen to be the best team in the West, and tied for 2nd best in all the NHL. Unlike the Devils, who have the 4th worst GA/60 in the NHL, the Predators have the best. Pekka Rinne is the key to the Predators, as he is sporting an amazing .929 save percentage, and letting in less than 2 goals a game. Offensively, they are a very balanced team, with no player significantly better than the rest. Ryan Johansen leads in points, with 26 in 32. Defenseman Roman Josi is next, with 23 points in 32. Filip Forsberg unsurprisingly leads the team in goals, with 14 in 26. It’s funny now to think that the Predators were able to acquire Forsberg, arguably their best forward, for a declining Martin Erat. It’s scary to think that the Predators are without key players such as Viktor Arvidsson and PK Subban, and are still the third best team in the NHL. This is a very good team.
Devils Core: Offensively, as per the usual, the Devils are carried by Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmier. Jesper Bratt has also performed well, with 12 points in in 16 games.
The real weakness on the Devils is their goaltending and defense. Statistically, they are 28th in goals allowed per game, and starting goaltender Keith Kinkaid sports a .904 save percentage. Hopefully, the Devils improve on this worrying statistic.
Projected Lines: As of now, no update yet. I’ll let you guys more when more gets updated.
Thoughts? Who will win? Who will score? Will the Devils make the playoffs in the end? Let me know in the comments below, and take care