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Game Preview: Maple Leafs vs. Devils

The Maple Leafs are in town, and the Devils are looking to play spoiler against them.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs
Travis Zajac skates past Andreas Johnsson of the Maple Leafs
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Game: Toronto Maple Leafs (21-10-2 SBNation; Pension Plan Puppets) vs. the New Jersey Devils (11-13-7)

The Time: 7;00 PM EST

The Broadcast: MSG+

Ice Cold Devils: As I’m sure most of us are aware, the Devils have been nothing short of atrocious recently, not counting the last two games. In their last 10, they are 2-4-4, and if not for the Flyers even more miserable run of form, the Devils would be last in the Eastern Conference. For Devils fans who believe the Devils still have a chance of making the playoffs, we are thankful we are in a horrendous Metropolitan division, which means the Devils are only 7 points off of a playoff spot. Taylor Hall is skating again, but it is unknown if he will be able to play against Toronto.

Nico Hischier has been hot of late, with a four game point streak snapped against the Predators. Kyle Palmieri also had a four game point streak ended against the Predators. Meanwhile, Jesper Bratt has been a key distributor for the Devils, with 11 assists in 17 games. This Devils piece has top-end talent to compete, but are sorely lacking in depth. Travis Zajac, Blake Coleman and Brian Boyle provide some depth, but second to fourth line wingers are needed. Players like Miles Wood and Stefan Noesen have taken a step back this year, which has caused the drastic change in the Devils’ fortunes. With the team banking on further development from their youth, those players need to step up if the Devils are to have any type of change

Toronto’s Stars: On the other side, Toronto is carried by their young players, as well as former Islander John Tavares. Mitch Marner has taken another step forward, and now as more assists than games (35 compared to 33) and eight goals to his name as well. John Tavares has already reached the 20 goal mark, while Auston Matthews still is working off some post-injury rust while still having 16 goals in 19 games. Defenseman Morgan Rielly has developed into a stud defenseman, with 10 goals and 35 points for the team. Nazem Kadri, Patrick Marleau, Zach Hyman and Andreas Johnsson all provide further depth for this team, with 7-8 goals each. This doesn’t even account for players such as Connor Brown and Willian Nylander, both 20 goal scorers for the Leafs in the past. This team is 1st in scoring, with an eye-dropping 4 goals a game. This, plus the Devils’ suspect goaltending duo of Mackenzie Blackwood and Keith Kinkaid, could lead to a bad night for us Devils fans.

The Lines: Lines will probably look something like this

Transactions: Cory Schneider’s bad luck continues, with another injury forcing him to go on the IR. Mackenzie Blackwood has taken his place.

Some other news around the league:

  • The Flyers have fired head coach Dave Hakstol. This means the front office and coaching staff are being replaced in Philly this year. It’s nice to know the Devils don’t have it the worst in the Metropolitan.
  • Charlie Coyle is on the trade block for the Wild. It is unknown if the Devils would be in on him, but he seems like the perfect mix of youth and prior results shown that, if the price is not too high, the Devils should try and acquire.

Your Thoughts: Who do you think will win? Who will score? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.