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Game Preview #32: The New Jersey Devils vs the Arizona Coyotes

With trade rumors swirling, can the Devils focus and snap their win streak tonight in Arizona?

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Match-up: The New Jersey Devils (9-17-5) vs the Arizona Coyotes (19-11-4)

The Time: 8pm

The Broadcast: MSG+

The Devils Bad News:

Alright, elephant in the room first:

As of this publishing, Taylor Hall has not yet been dealt in a trade. That being said they were close enough in talks to hold him out of last night’s game, so I would not expect him to play tonight or ever again in a Devils jersey. There’s speculation that Colorado is the target as they’ve been the frontrunners in trade talk the whole time and he was pulled while in Colorado, but it could very well be coincidence as Shero’s trying to get him dealt before the roster freeze, so don’t hold your breath or order your Byram jerseys just yet.

Part II: Louis Domingue experienced some type of lower body/groin injury during the game last night, so Mackenzie Blackwood will not be as fresh as we would have hoped coming into tonight. He did do an excellent job in relief, with 19 shots faced and no goals allowed over just about half the game played. No word has come out yet on whether Domingue will be on the bench for the Devils tonight or if we’ll have to make a call-up for our backup.

The Devils Good News:

Despite missing Taylor Hall in the lineup, the Devils played surprisingly well last night. The Devils led the majority of the game in shots, shot attempts, and expected goals which is not something the Colorado Avalanche are used to seeing. Unfortunately we just cannot score goals for our lives so it took 55 minutes to net one, which is not good enough to win in Denver. Hopefully the loss of Hall and the prospect of new blood coming into the lineup can light a fire under the boys and get something going for them tonight in Phoenix.

As usual, the Coleman Zajac Gusev line led the team in literally everything last night (can we just call them our first line at this point? Zajac had a higher 5v5 ixG than anyone on either team except Tyson Jost. I have no idea whats with the magic that line has found but play them for 25 minutes).

The Good News about the Coyotes:

They’re only slightly better than us in every single category? I got nothing else.

The Coyote Ugly:

Well, all of it.

The Devils are coming in on the second half of a back to back with travel and jet lag. The Yotes are well rested having had last night off, and are playing at home. The Devils are coming in on a 6 or 7 game losing streak (I can’t count that high guys, sorry I’m losing track), Arizona just spanked the Blackhawks 5-2.

Offensively, the two teams are pretty even. Both teams are shooting at a nearly identical 7.22 or 7.33 SH% (Devils have the advantage here) and are racking up an also nearly identical 2.17 vs 2.16 xGF/60 (advantage goes to Coyotes here but only by .01xGs).

Defensively... we’re in trouble. The Devils aren’t even in either of the same hemispheres on defensive metrics as Arizona, let alone the same quality. The Devils team save percentage is sub 90% and their expected goals against per 60 is up at 2.35. The Coyotes are saving 93.99% of shots against and only allowing 2.16xGA/60. Both teams allow about the same about of shot chances against per game (57 each), while Arizona is getting a few more chances for per game (54 vs 51).

Off the spreadsheets and on the ice, the Coyotes have been twice as successful as the Devils and its almost entirely due to their goaltending. They’re second in the league in SV% thanks to the incredibly solid tag team efforts of Darcy Kuemper (.943) and Anti Raanta (.939). Surprisingly they don’t have an overly solid penalty kill at just 80% (compare to the Devils 78%) but they do have a decent power play at 20% (again compare to the Devils 13%).

Expected Lineups:

The last minute benching of Hall led to some quick scrambling of lines, so they might change before tonight’s game but here’s what we could see again:

Bratt - Hischier - Palmieri
Gusev - Zajac - Coleman
Hughes - Zacha - Simmonds
Wood - McLeod - Boqvist

Greene - Subban
Butcher - Vatanen
Severson - Mueller
Blackwood

ARIZONA:

Schmaltz - Dvorak - Fischer
Keller - Stepan - Hinostroza
Crouse - Soderberg - Kessel
Grabner - Richardson - Garland

Ekman-Larsson - Lyabushkin
Chycrun - Goligoski
Ness - Oesterle
Kuemper

The Takeaway for Tonight: Our odds sure don’t look good on paper tonight, but you know what, they look a lot worse compared to Colorado and they held their own pretty well last night, so I’m open to being pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, given that we can’t seem to score for anything and goaltending is Arizona’s biggest strength, I’m not expecting good odds here tonight.

Your Take: Who’s feeling optimistic!? Anyone expecting to see a good game or are is everyone just watching to see if there’s any Hall updates? Leave your best predictions, thoughts, and comments below, and thanks for reading!