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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. The Carolina Hurricanes

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Fending off the Panthers, the Devils now have to stand their ground against the Carolina Hurricanes, who seek to preserve their long-shot hopes.

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

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (39-28-8) versus the Carolina Hurricanes (34-31-11). SBN Blog: Canes County.

The Broadcast: TV - MSG

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

No Help: The Islanders played the Florida Panthers last night. Unfortunately for the Devils, the Islanders could not even pull off a goal. Thus, the Panthers are now one point behind the Devils, with one game at hand. If the Devils lose tonight, they will only have a point on the Panthers having played two more games, putting them in a precarious position. The Panthers play a real team tomorrow, when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Hurricanes: The Hurricanes played last night, so they are on no days of rest. Versus the Ottawa Senators, the Hurricanes won 4-1. If the Devils want to take advantage of the Hurricanes’ short rest, they need to not waste any of their speed and bring the attack to Carolina. The Senators only got 20 shots on net, but the Devils nonetheless should have a significant rest advantage. However, if the Devils win tonight, the Hurricanes season is just about over, so expect the Hurricanes to try their hardest to overcome their lack of rest.

Yesterday’s Practice: There was an optional practice for the New Jersey Devils yesterday. The only players that did not practice were Andy Greene, Sami Vatanen, Blake Coleman, Kyle Palmieri, and Keith Kinkaid. I think you can readily assume all of those players will play tonight, if they took the extra rest from practice yesterday - though Coleman is the only one in much question right now.

Keith Kinkaid: Keith Kinkaid is the confirmed starter for the New Jersey Devils tonight. I’m pleased to see that John Hynes is sticking with the better goalie for the time being. While Carolina isn’t that good, if Cory Schneider is to get in any game for the rest of the year, I think it would be against Montreal, which is one of the more offensively inept teams. In his last 14 starts, he has a 11-3-0 record with a save percentage over .930 - and thus the hot hand will continue to guide the team.

Injury Report: Miles Wood practiced yesterday, and he seems ready to play. If the coaches agree, he could return to the lineup tonight. Thankfully, he only hyperextended his arm, as his injury looked potentially more severe to some who saw the hit that made him miss a couple games. If anyone comes out of the lineup for Wood, I would think it would be from the group of Stefan Noesen, Jesper Bratt, Brian Boyle, or maybe Brian Gibbons - but most likely Noesen. I’m not too big a fan of scratching Noesen, but he seems to be the first choice to sit in general. Jesper Bratt has been scratched on occasion in recent times as well, but I’m not sure if he’s more likely to be scratched than Noesen.

Marcus Johansson is Skating: It’s been a significant amount of time since Marcus Johansson got a concussion as a result of an elbow to the head from Brad Marchand. While Johansson is still some time away from being on the ice during gametime, it’s good to see Johansson get back onto the ice at all this season. I hope they continue to take it slow with him, and perhaps he can alleviate some scoring pressure during the playoffs if the team doesn’t fall out of their spot. Marcus Johansson also had some words about Brad Marchand that I would like to pass along.

Your Thoughts: What are your thoughts on tonight’s game? How should John Hynes handle the potential return of Miles Wood? Should Mirco Mueller continue to play, as not very useful as he’s been? Are you in hopeful anticipation or anxious dread for this game? Leave your thoughts below.