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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils at Chicago Blackhawks

The Devils head to Chicago, looking to bounce back from a 8-3 drubbing to the Blues.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at New Jersey Devils
Drew Stafford (18) and Slater Koekkoek (68) battle for possession of the puck in the last matchup.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (21-17-8) vs. the Chicago Blackhawks (23-25-9)

The Time: 8:30 PM EST

The Broadcast: MSG+2

Hot Hawks: In their last 10, the Blackhawks are a very solid 7-3-0. In a very weak Western Conference, they are only four games off of a playoff spot. Prior to a loss against the Bruins on the 12th, they wracked up seven straight wins. Before that amazing win streak, the Blackhawks had a five game losing streak. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat are leading the charge. DeBrincat has 10 points in his last 5 games, while Toews and Kane both have 7 points in their last 5. After them, Erik Gustafsson has truly emerged this season. With four goals in his last five games, he is now sitting on 12 goals and 24 assists on the year, sitting him squarely at 4th in points. Dylan Strome has seemed to finally be living up to his draft spot, as he has 31 points in 33 games for the Blackhawks. Dominik Kahun has also picked up the pace, with 9 points in his last five. This team is full of players who are emerging to be important pieces for the Blackhawks.

Devilish Woes: The Devils were recently embarassed 8-3, and the goaltending and defense problems have been reiterated. For positives, waiver pickup Ken Agostino picked up an assist in his first Devils game. Mirco Mueller scored his first goal of the season. And.... that’s about it. Both Keith Kinkaid and Cory Schneider have save percentages below .900, which is a major reason for the Devils struggle. Blackwood being sent back to the AHL days ago fully suggests the Devils have waived the white flag. Let’s hope on this Valentine’s day that the Love(joy) can have a great game, and increase his trade value. Also, hope for a good return on Marcus Johansson and anything for players like Drew Stafford.

Pavel: Has Zacha finally emerged? The frustrating Devils forward has now picked up a goal in two games in a row, and sits on a fine 11. Each goal marks a new career best for Zacha, and his play has improved rather considerably this year. It’s starting to look like he has a future for this Devils team that can take whatever they can, especially considering regression from players such as Stefan Noesen and Miles Wood.

Predicted Lineup: Cory Schneider will be starting for the Devils. Miles Wood will not be in the game either. I’d expect a similar lineup for the Devils from last game, which features star essential pieces like Kurtis Gabriel and Eric Gryba! I don’t understand the Devils affinity for players like them.

Your Thoughts?: What do you think? Who will win? Who will score? Will Zacha continue his hot streak? Should we tank? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.