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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils versus the Ottawa Senators

The Devils take on the tank team.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils
I wonder if Vatanen can return tonight.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (23-29-8) versus the Ottawa Senators (22-32-5).

The Time: 7:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: MSG+

Battle of the Tanks: The Devils currently have five more points than the Ottawa Senators in one more game played. As of this moment, the Devils are not on track to get one of Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko. With just 22 games to go, it would take quite a fall to match a team like the Senators, who will likely be without Matt Duchene after the trade deadline. And with Cory Schneider returning and apparently being back to his normal self, the Devils will probably need more lottery luck to end up with a top two pick.

The Goaltenders: The next test for Cory Schneider will presumably come tonight. He will be facing off against Anders Nilsson. Nilsson has a .920 save percentage and a 2.74 goals against average while going 7-6-0 in 13 starts and 14 appearances for the Ottawa Senators.

Injury Report: Stefan Noesen was considered a possibility to play against the Penguins but ended up being scratched. Pavel Zacha has a day-to-day injury, and I imagine he is probably a game-time decision, if not playing. The real positive return for the New Jersey Devils right now would be Sami Vatanen, who was still rehabbing from his concussion as of a couple nights ago, but making progress to a return. A return for Zacha and Noesen would also give the Devils closer to four competitive lines. Given that the fourth line last game was Brett Seney, Kevin Rooney, and Drew Stafford, I would think that John Hynes would like a more cohesive group in his bottom six. This would also likely mean that Blake Coleman can move back to left wing next to Travis Zajac, or Pavel Zacha can play left wing next to one of the two.

Senators “Injury” Report: Though they may be scratched due to possibility of a trade, I have seen both Matt Duchene and Bobby Ryan listed on injury lists for the Senators on ESPN and TSN with short-term injuries and rest. Therefore, they might be out of the lineup tonight against the Devils, but I wouldn’t be very sure about that until the Senators hit the ice before the game.

Last Couple of Games(?): This might be the end of the road for Marcus Johansson with the New Jersey Devils. He has been red hot in the last couple of weeks, playing like the man he’s supposed to be (or even better). This could be a boon for Ray Shero’s hand, as he even has the ability to trade into the back half of the first round, which would give the Devils four picks in the first 62 selections. And since there is nothing stopping the team from trying to sign him in free agency after trading him, I think it is probably in the Devils’ best interest to get something in return for Johansson - especially since a top two selection is not guaranteed for our first rounder.

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game. Do you want to win? Do you think the Devils will win? How do you feel about Johansson? Do you think the Devils will attempt to sign Duchene? Leave your thoughts in the comments below?