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Game Preview: Blackhawks at Devils

The Devils head to Chicago, looking to achieve their 2nd win in a row.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at New Jersey Devils
Jesper Bratt goes in on goal again Anton Forsberg, but is unfortunately stopped
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Devils face off against Chicago, who are loser of five of their last six. The Devils, who are likewise on a cold run having only won one of their last four, hope to capitalize on one of the teams worse than them points wise. Here is the preview.

The Matchup: Chicago Blackhawks (16-22-9 SBNation; Second City Hockey) vs. the New Jersey Devils (17-20-7)

The Last Devils Game: The Devils beat the Flyers 3-2, with another splendid performance from Mackenzie Blackwood. In the battle of the rookies, Blackwood made 32 saves on 34 shots, while Carter Hart made 23 saves on 26 shots. The Devils scored first, with Damon Severson firing an incredible shot top-corner past Hart to start the Devils scoring off. Then, in the second, Nico Hischier scored on a breakaway move suggested to him by veteran Drew Stafford to make it 2-0. Devils offseason target James Van Riemsdyk scored on an in-tight shot to make it 2-1, but the Devils were able to respond with a Miles Wood goal on a rebound to make it 3-1. Unfortunately for Blackwood, Jakub Voracek was able to slot one home to make it 3-2 with 2 seconds remaining in the game, but it was too little too late as the Devils held on for the win.

The Last Blackhawks Game: In the last three games, it was deja vu for the Blackhawks as it was a series of consecutive 4-3 losses. The Blackhawks started off well in their recent overtime loss to the Golden Knights, with Patrick Kane and super sophomore Alex DeBrincat scoring the opening goals in the first to make it 2-0. Alex Tuch of Las Vegas scored to cut it to 2-1, but DeBrincat would strike again to make it 3-1. However, with one minute left in the second, Ryan Carpenter would cut it to 3-2, before Paul Stastny would tie it late in the 3rd. Then, a little over a minute into overtime, Shea Theodore iced the game, sending Chicago to their 3rd straight loss.

The Blackhawks Conundrum: Unlike the Devils, the Blackhawks have a lot of star power and nothing else. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat are forwards to drool over, with Kane and DeBrincat each having over 20 goals and Toews sitting at 18 goals. After that, their only player with over 10 goals is the disappointing Brandon Saad. Dylan Strome has been alright with Chicago, with 14 points in 23 games, and Erik Gustafsson has very quietly had a solid offensive campaign for Chicago, with 8 goals and 21 assists. Other than that, players like Artem Anisimov and Duncan Keith have further declined, and players like Dominik Kohun, Brandon Perlini and John Hayden have not taken that next step needed. With the second worst record in the West, it may be time for Chicago to completely tear it down, and rebuild from the bottom-up.

Collin Delia may be a piece to build on, as through a very small seven games he has a .932 save percentage. Like Blackwood however, this is his first true year where he’s performed well in the AHL and NHL. He and Blackwood are in very similar situations right now

The Devils Conundrum: Unlike the Blackhawks, the Devils do not possess much star power, but offer different pieces that provide different levels of value. It is at the point in the season where the Devils are considering what pieces to retain and what pieces to hold on to, but it is evident that they may look to retool for the future. Rental pieces such as Marcus Johansson, Brian Boyle, Ben Lovejoy and Drew Stafford could all go for varying prices at some point in the future, although I believe that that no players should be safe besides Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri and possibly Mackenzie Blackwood or Blake Coleman. This season seems to be over for the Devils already, with less than a 2% chance of making the playoffs, so the focus should be on the future.

Projected Lineup: As of now, nothing. I’d expect Mackenzie Blackwood and Collin Delia to start. Other than that, no updates yet.

So..: Let me know what you guys think the outcome of this game will be. Who will score first? Put your answers in the comments below, and take care.