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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens

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Fresh off a win against a Crosby-less Penguins, the Devils look to turn their season around with a win against a hot Canadiens team.

NHL: Preseason-New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (6-8-4) versus the Montreal Canadiens (11-5-3)

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - Devils Hockey Net

Devilish Escape: The Devils were pounded, bullied, and outchanced by the Penguins. With a 2-0 Devils lead heading into the 3rd, the Penguins came back time and time again, only to be stopped by our hero, Mackenzie Blackwood. The Devils goals were scored by Travis Zajac and Matt Murray John Marino Blake Coleman. Devils fans, we can rejoice and forget that we allowed a man who hadn’t scored in over a year to score, ignore the clear deficiencies in our play-style, ignore that we were outplayed by a Crosby-less Penguins team, and celebrate our SIXTH win of the season!

Yes, I am a pessimist.

In all seriousness, if not for Mackenzie Blackwood the Penguins would have ran away with this game. Mackenzie made 38 saves on 39 shots, many of them high danger threats. Meanwhile, the Devils only got 21 shots on goal, and seemed to forget that offensive zone time was an option in the 3rd period. Yes, I understand playing more defensively with a lead entering the 3rd. No, playing “defensively” isn’t allowing the other team to zone your end of the ice, while every Devil looks confused. Regardless, a win is a win. Hynes, please do your job and fix this team.

Canadian Danger: While the Canadiens don’t possess one player that can dominate a game, they possess very scary depth. For comparisons sake, the Canadiens have 8 players with 10 or more points, and 6 players with 5 or more goals. The Devils have two players with more than 10 points, and 1 player with 5 or more goals (Kyle Palmieri). Who are these Canadiens to watch out for?

Former long-time Red Wing and one time Golden Knight Tomas Tatar is following up an excellent first season (25 goals, 33 assists) with a potentially better one. On the year, he has 7 goals and 12 assists in 19 games, including four points against the Capitals yesterday. A smaller skilled player, he leads the Canadiens in points.

Former Lightning Prospect Jonathan Drouin seems to have finally found his footing after a series of good but not great season. He has 7 goals and 8 assists in 19 games, second on the team. Always a player with skills that outpaced his numbers, will this finally be the year he breaks out as a star?

Former Nashville blaster Shea Weber is finally 100% healthy, and looks better than ever. His slapshot has always been one to be feared, and the Canadiens are happy to have him at his fullest. With 6 goals and 10 assists through 19 games, the 34 year old veteran is proving that he still has a lot left in the tank.

Lifetime Canadian Brendan Gallagher, one of the most underrated players in the NHL, is having yet another quiet but quality season. In 19 games, Gallagher has 8 goals and 7 assists.

One of last year’s most improved players, Max Domi, is trying to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke and affirm himself as one of the best in the league. While off to a slow start compared to last year’s monster season (28 goals, 44 assists), 12 points in 19 games is nothing to scoff at.

Playmaker Phillip Danault, a former Blackhawks farmhand and now 5th year Canadian, has seemingly added more goals into his game. With 5 goals and 6 assists on the season, he’s looking to take yet another step, and make the Blackhawks regret trading him for the corpses of Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann.

Big Jeff Petry has quietly had two excellent campaigns for the Canadiens, and is looking to have another great season. Averaging 24 minutes a game, Petry is looking to top 12 goals for a 3rd straight year (I was surprised by this).

Lastly, former Jet and Sabre Joel Armia is having himself a breakout year. With nearly a minute more ice time a game, Armia has rewarded the Canadiens with 6 goals and 4 assists through 17 games.

Projected Lines:

I’d guess the Devils keep the same lines they used against the Penguins. Should they? That’s up for the jury to decide.

Hall - Hughes - Palmieri

Bratt - Hischier - Boqvist

Coleman - Zajac - Gusev

Wood - Zacha - Simmonds

Greene - Severson

Butcher - Subban

Mueller - Tennyson

Blackwood

(Please Sami come back)

Your Thoughts?: Who will win? Who will score? Dmac45, if you’re reading this, who won’t score? Name as many as you’d like, and take care!