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Game Preview: Devils at Senators

After a highly entertaining game against the Maple Leafs, the Devils look to come back strong against a weaker Canadian team.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (12-19-6) vs. the Ottawa Senators (16-18-4)

The Time: 5:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG; Radio - Devils Hockey Network

Ottawa’s Recovery: Compared to last year, Ottawa has made a miraculous recovery, without much addition from their squad. The reason for this? Some unexpected free agent hits, and development from their youth.

Anthony Duclair, whose career started with much promise before quickly dwindling, has found his footing again. He has already bested his career high of 20 goals (his sophomore year with Arizona) with 21 this season, while adding 9 assists to lead the Senators with 30 points in 38 games. Whether this is simply being the best of a bad bunch, or a truly breakthrough campaign, needs more time to tell, but he has been a steal for the Senators. In 11 December games, Duclair has had 11 goals and 4 assists, for 15 points.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau continues to grow on his breakout campaign, and is potentially the best trading piece on the market. He’s nearly matched his career high in goals (19), and is on pace for 60 points on the season. The gritty Senator has 18 goals and 10 assists this season, (though with a sky-high 20% shooting percentage) and can kill penalties, while also possessing a +/- of 21.

Brady Tkachuk, the sophomore stud for Ottawa, is having a great sophomore campaign. With an already good rookie season (22 goals, 23 assists) under his belt, Brady has soared forward and is projected to best these numbers. With 13 goals and 11 assists on the year, Tkachuk is projected to reach 28 goals and 24 assists on the season, and leads the Ottawa youth movement.

Thomas Chabot, the Senators defensive stalwart and #1, is not matching his amazing offensive records from previous years. However, he has seemingly exchanged that for a more defensive approach, as he plays more minutes than ever before (26:08 a game!), leading the NHL. While his offensive numbers are nothing special (3 goals, 19 assists), Chabot is the stability the Senators have been searching for with Erik Karlsson’s leaving, and has helped the Senators immensely this year.

In terms of depth, Connor Brown and Tyler Ennis provide some depth scoring, with Brown having 23 points (6 goals) through 38 and Ennis having 21 points (10 goals) through 38. Veteran defenseman Mark Borowiecki somehow has already bested his career high in points, with 15 points through 38 games.

The Senators lineup should look something like this (As of their last game)

Tkachuk - Pageau - Brown
Ennis - Tierney - Duclair
Namestnikov - Anisimov - White
Paul - Beaudin - Sabourin

Chabot - Galoubef
Borowiecki - Brannstrom
Englund - Jaros

Craig Anderson

Devils Last Game: The Devils played a very entertaining game against the Maple Leafs, but ultimately lost to a Damon Severson own goal in the overtime. As is most Devils’ games, there was some good, a lot of bad, and a loss in the end.

Projected Lines: I’d guess the lines look something similar to last game

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

Greene - Subban
Mueller - Severson
Carrick - Vatanen

Blackwood

Your Thoughts: Who will win this battle of bad teams? Who will score? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.