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Game Preview #35: New Jersey Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets

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After a bad showing versus Washington, the Devils look to turn it around with a road win on the end of a back-to-back.

NHL: SEP 27 Preseason - Devils at Blue Jackets Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (11-18-5) at the Columbus Blue Jackets (15-14-6). SBN Blog: Jackets Cannon

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

The Time: 7:00 PM

Injuries Aplenty: The Columbus Blue Jackets have, to this point, played this season without Brandon Dubinsky, who has been missing time with a wrist issue. Dubinsky hasn’t exactly been up to his normal production levels the past two seasons - with six goals and 10 assists in 62 games in 2017-18 followed by six goals and eight assists in 61 games in 2018-19. It may be possible that wrong side of 30 is just not being kind to Dubinsky - but Columbus is still paying him just a salary and cap hit of 5.85 million this season and next year as well.

With such an important piece to the team unable to be relied upon, the Blue Jackets have had to find other sources of production. However, the injury bug has been hitting them pretty hard of late. Since Zach Werenski was recently activated from injured reserve after missing a few games with a shoulder injury, the Blue Jackets have placed Josh Anderson and Ryan Murray on injured reserve, while Cam Atkinson left the Blue Jackets’ last game against Los Angeles, and did not return.

Anderson has had a rough season for the Blue Jackets, as he only has a goal and three assists in 26 games so far. After having 27 goals and 20 assists on the second line last season, he has had a huge step back in his age 25 year. Ryan Murray has also seen a drop in his production after racking up 28 assists in 56 games (with one goal) last season, while playing over 21 minutes a night. In 24 games of playing just under 20 minutes a night this season, he has two goals and five assists; while his Corsi For percentage has dropped from 50.1 (-0.2 relative) to 46.5 (-5.0 relative).

The Devils need to take advantage of the Blue Jackets being short of some of their talent. While the Devils are still probably out-skilled by the remaining Blue Jackets, they ought to play a physical game tonight. The Devils are not having injury problems as of yet this season, despite everything else that has gone wrong, and they need to take advantage of their opponent’s apparent difficulty in staying on the ice by playing hard from start to finish.hard f

The Question Mark of Goaltending: After having Sergei Bobrovsky for seven seasons, the Blue Jackets moved on to 25 year olds Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins this year. Korpisalo has a 15-10-3 record in 27 starts with a .909 save percentage, 2.62 goals against average, and two shutouts. Merzlikins is 0-4-3 in eight starts with an .889 save percentage and 3.41 goals against average.

Korpisalo is in the middle of a three game winning streak, as he won both ends of a back-to-back on December 16 and 17, and then on December 19. Merzlikins, meanwhile, has only played one full game this month. In the month of December, Merzlikins is 0-1-0 in two starts, having saved 29 of 34 shots in 79 and a half minutes of ice time. Korpisalo has played just over 462 minutes across eight games in December, with a .925 save percentage and 2.08 goals against average.

With MacKenzie Blackwood coming off of playing the majority of a night in which he got hung out to dry, I would not be entirely surprised if I saw Gilles Senn tonight, as he only faced a few shots last night. Due to John Tortorella’s usage of Korpisalo, I would not be expecting a backup-versus-backup match.

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game? Do you think the Devils can bounce back? Do you think they will? Who are you watching for tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.