Game Preview: New Jersey Devils (21-28-8) vs. the Minnesota Wild (27-25-5)
The Time: 8:30 PM EST
The Broadcast: MSG+
Another Game Another Loss: The Devils are terrible. This has been evident for a while, but last night’s drubbing against the Blackhawks further reiterated that fact. The theme was the same yet again this game — terrible defense/goaltending leads to a terrible loss for the Devils. This, coupled with a very mediocre offense made up of half-AHL caliber players, leads to a terrible season where the Devils have the worst goal differential in the East. This is what happens when the biggest acquisition in the offseason was Eric Gryba. The idea that a team that barely made the playoffs could scrape it again with a team that lost key core players such as John Moore, Patrick Maroon and even Brian Gibbons shocked me at the time, and only proved right now. Looks like it’s time to bring out the big guns like Kurtis Gabriel and Eric Gryba, because it’s looking like tank time.
Struggling Wild: Oh how the mighty fall. A team that looked certain to make the playoffs weeks ago now is struggling to fight for the last Wild (hah) card spot. To be fair to them, this one isn’t completely the team’s fault. Injuries to Matt Dumba, Mikko Koivu, Pontus Aberg and Victor Rask have thinned this teams depth, to the point where players like Matt Hendricks are logging some minutes for this team. This team is jumbled right now, to the point where Bruce Boudreau guaranteed his team makes the playoffs, yet Wild owner Craig Leopold approved for the Wild to start selling. It’s a shame for the Wild.
Wild’s Players: Zach Parise leads the team in points, with 49 points in 56 games. He also leads in goals, with 23 on the season. After that, it is Mikael Granlund, who has 46 in 57. The team’s leading defenseman are Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon, with over 23 minutes of game time each (Suter has over 26). Devan Dubnyk is the Wild’s starting goalie, and he sports a 21-20-4 record, with a .911 save percentage. This team is struggling, but still a relatively solid team. Being without Koivu and Dumba has severely hurt this team.
Projected Lineups: I’d expect Kinkaid vs. Dubnyk for a goaltending matchup. I’d hope for the same lineup as the last game, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gabriel or Gryba in again.
Your Thoughts: Back to back games, how exciting! Who do you think will win? Who will score? Will the Devils be good anytime soon? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.