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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. the Vegas Golden Knights

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The Devils finally take on the Golden Knights. Here's a preview.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh Penguins
Vatanen has had more production come out of his play. Will it continue?
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (33-24-8) versus the Vegas Golden Knights (41-18-5). SBN Blog: Knights on Ice

The Time: 5:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: MSG+

Thank the Panthers, Vegas: The Panthers’ former players account for the Golden Knights’ top two scorers. Jonathan Marchessault was picked in the expansion draft, and Reilly Smith was traded for a fourth round pick. The Panthers seemed to bet that Marchessault’s 30-goal, 21-assist season was something of a fluke, and thus didn’t protect him over some of their other players. It was not. Marchessault has 22 goals and 43 assists so far this season. Reilly Smith has 22 goals and 38 assists.

Breakout Season: The real explosion seems to have come from William Karlsson. With 50 points in 183 games before this season on his career, he seemed more like a bottom six forward. Instead, he has 35 goals this season, and 59 total points to put him third on the team.

The Last Team: The New Jersey Devils are the last team to have never played the Vegas Golden Knights while existing before them. Versus other Metropolitan Division teams, the Golden Knights are 6-5-1.

Happy to not be on their Home Ice: The Golden Knights are 24-7-2 on home ice this year. Fortunately, this game will be at the Prudential Center. I wonder how they might fare in the playoffs if they continue to fall to a more average level of play (7-6-1 in their last 14 games), while not being the beneficiaries of five-plus game homestands. In games within such homestands this year, the Golden Knights are 15-3-1. The Devils, for comparison, have only had one homestead of five or more games - six (5-0-1) from December 15 to 29.

What to Do after Last Game?: The Devils have struggled to find scoring aside from Taylor Hall at times lately. While there is no practice from yesterday to goo off of, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another line shake-up apparent before tonight’s game. I’m wondering whether Hall and Nico Hischier get split up to spread out playmakers on the lines. Whether they should remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it today - or soon if the team is flat again.

A Goodbye: Andrew Gross of The Record has covered his last game with the Devils. He is now moving to Newsday, where he will cover the Islanders. If you would like to read his goodbye post, it is here.

Your Thoughts: What do you think of the Vegas Golden Knights? Do you buy the team’s chances of success? Or do you think they are the beneficiaries of a bad division, and favorable scheduling? What do you think the Devils should do tonight? Should they keep everything steady? Or should they shake the lines up? Leave your thoughts below.