The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (12-15-7) versus the Columbus Blue Jackets (20-12-3). SBN Blog: Jackets Cannon.
The Time: 12:30 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+
Heritage Day: Today is the first day of the season that the Devils will be breaking out the white, red, and green jerseys this season.
The locker room is all set up with Heritage jerseys and ready for the #NJDevils to arrive this morning. pic.twitter.com/GrVoQnBz1L— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) December 23, 2018
I guess there are still mixed opinions about bringing this style back. However, that’s a side concern at most. The same game of hockey is being played in white, red, and green as black, red, and white.
Give Mackenzie Another Start: John Hynes has indicated that Mackenzie Blackwood will be getting more starts before the return of Cory Schneider can even be considered. Since Blackwood played so well against Columbus on Thursday night, I think he deserves the chance to get a win against the Blue Jackets. Additionally, Sergei Bobrovsky should be unlikely to start as he got the win last night in Philadelphia. That would mean Joonas Korpisalo, who has an .885 save percentage and a 3.54 goals against average in 10 starts and 12 appearances this year, would likely get the start. Certainly, that might take some of the pressure to perform off Blackwood’s shoulders - but Korpisalo was not confirmed as the starter last night.
Would guess this means #NJDevils will see Joonas Korpisalo tomorrow, though there’s a break coming and Torts could try to sneak an extra game in for Bobrovsky. https://t.co/CxuBmWQj0m— Corey Masisak (@cmasisak22) December 22, 2018
Defensive Issues: The defense cannot play similarly to how they played against Columbus on Thursday. That was an unacceptable effort. Here’s just how bad it was:
Defense shot contributions (5v5) from Devils vs Blue Jackets. This is...yikes. I've never tracked worse. Nobody did much of anything. pic.twitter.com/TBclwsGglE— Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell) December 21, 2018
It appears that the Sami Vatanen and Damon Severson experiment is already dead. That is a good thing, but this group as a whole is not exactly getting along regardless at the moment. I’m hesitant to breakup Andy Greene and Damon Severson, however, which leaves me in a place of not knowing what can even be attempted with the defense. Maybe Greene could do okay with Lovejoy in favourable usage on the third pairing, but it was not very long ago that Greenerson looked like it was in 2014-15 form. Just see this article from late October. The team as a whole has gone through a fairly terrible stretch - this worsened showing from those two is not the only product of it.
A Plea to Miles Wood: Stop taking stupid penalties. Please. It’s time to stop. Seriously - has any player in NHL history been so gifted physically and been unable to stop themselves from running over the goaltender every other week? Somebody is going to get hurt sooner or later, and I won’t be keen on defending Wood when that happens.
As for Seney: I have to call into question the praise I saw for him after the last game. When he was on the ice at five-on-five, the Devils got outshot eight to one. Since Seney had no special teams play against Ottawa and only made a mark in the game when he went to the box for getting into it with Zach Smith, he was about as useless during the game as one could get. Thus, it struck me as odd to sing his praises that particular night. It wasn’t much better for him in Columbus Thursday - though the whole team wasn’t very good. If the Devils plan on winning today, they’re going to need to have more than one useful line - and it would help a lot if Seney got back to contributing positively, so the fourth line doesn’t get run over every time they go out for a shift.
Your Thoughts: How do you feel about today’s game? Do you think the Devils can win? Would you rather see Keith Kinkaid, or Blackwood? Who are you most looking to for making a difference tonight? How do you think the defensive pairings can best be fixed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.