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Game Preview #24: New Jersey Devils at the Montreal Canadiens

After putting up a frustrating (at best) performance versus Minnesota, the Devils travel to Montreal on Thanksgiving to hopefully not turn the puck over 20 or more times.

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

It’s Thanksgiving. You know what that means - the Devils are playing a road game in French Canada for the only game in the NHL.

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (8-11-4) at the Montreal Canadiens (11-8-5). SBN Blog: Habs Eye on the Prize

The Time: 7:30 PM ET

The Broadcast: Local TV - MSG+. National - NHL Network.

After the Ordeal: The Devils last lost 3-2 at home versus Minnesota. Score-wise, it was winnable for all 60 minutes, but the Devils were consistently their own worst enemy throughout the game. This was reflected most obviously in the turnover count for the Devils - 21, in comparison to Minnesota’s three. This is not an inflated count, as these weren’t road scorekeepers that inflated Minnesota’s takeaway to giveaway ratio - the Devils were that bad at keeping control of the puck. After John Hynes kept the lineups the same for the game versus Minnesota as he had versus Detroit, there will be a change for tonight.

Injury Report: Amanda Stein also reported yesterday that Connor Carrick and Kevin Rooney were on the ice for practice. Carrick was also on the ice for Tuesday’s morning skate, and that may be some measure of good news for the Devils. With how bad Matt Tennyson has been on a defensive pairing with Will Butcher, getting another right-handed shot back could be a good thing for the team if Carrick is put in the right situations. As for Kevin Rooney; if he returns to the lineup tonight, Coleman could be expected to be put into one of the first three lines - as playing them together might be redundant in terms of their respective skill sets and styles, and therefore limit the line’s offensive threat. Otherwise, John Hayden or Miles Wood could potentially be scratched from that line, or Brett Seney from the Zajac line, in order for Kevin Rooney to return.

Speaking of Scratches: It is time for John Hynes to stop scratching Jesper Bratt and Pavel Zacha. They were clearly a good line for Nico Hischier to center if Jack Hughes is to get more of a chance to rack up points with Taylor Hall. Pavel Zacha currently sits at nine points in 20 games at an average ice time of 14:51. Jesper Bratt has seven points in 19 games with just an average ice time of 13:15. Zacha’s points per hour of ice time is higher than it has ever been, while Bratt is still putting up points at what would be a respectable pace for a middle six forward. So, not only should these two not be scratched - especially as Pavel Zacha starts to look more like a player befitting a high draft selection - they should be getting more ice time. Especially with Pavel Zacha’s defensive capability, there’s not much of an excuse to run players like John Hayden or Brett Seney onto the ice over him, as we could see by how out of place Brett Seney was in the middle six versus Minnesota.

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game? Will you be watching? How do you expect the lineup to shape up? Do you think the defense is better off with Connor Carrick? How many turnovers will there be tonight? What adjustments do you think need to be made in the Devils’ play? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

And, of course, have a happy Thanksgiving.