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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils versus the Montreal Canadiens

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Trade deadline day...

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens
Kotkaniemi is already better than Nolan Patrick. Just putting it out there.
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (24-30-8) versus the Montreal Canadiens (33-22-7).

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Broadcast: MSG+

Moves: The New Jersey Devils made a couple of intra-team moves yesterday that will affect the lineup for tonight’s game. Joey Anderson and Brett Seney were sent down to Binghamton, and Nathan Bastian and Michael McLeod were recalled. I have been waiting for Brett Seney to get sent down for awhile, as he has been quite ineffective at the NHL level.

McLeod and Bastian will likely give our fourth line a bit of a jolt, if nothing else, as they will have the energy of finally getting shots in the NHL. Nathan Bastian, for not showing a whole lot in the AHL and being moved to winger after being drafted as a center, will probably be a career fourth liner if he sticks in the NHL. Games like these are key to seeing if he might be a “good” fourth liner or not.

As for McLeod, you would hope that he amounts to at least a middle six player, but one of the few things the Devils actually don’t need at the moment is a center. With Nico Hischier, Travis Zajac, and Pavel Zacha, the Devils are most in need of wings in the top three lines. I think that the Devils should let McLeod run his own line on the fourth and perhaps later in the season line him up on Zacha or Zajac’s right.

Salute: Marcus Johansson will probably not be with the team by tonight’s game. He has simply played too well for the Devils to not see what they can get out of him in the trade market. Perhaps he even gets packaged with a Keith Kinkaid or Mirco Mueller. Regardless, Marcus Johansson never really got to show the Devils what he was really made of until they were buried in the standings and without Taylor Hall. But he played quite hard in those games, and for that, he deserves respect.

Meanwhile: The Montreal Canadiens are actually in a playoff spot. By much? No. They only have a one point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins. There’s a chance Marcus Johansson switches locker rooms today. The Canadiens are not going to be taking it easy on the Devils tonight, as they have something to legitimately play for. The only notable absence for them may be Jonathan Drouin, who has been dealing with an illness.

Comeback Goalies: Cory Schneider will probably be in net for the Devils tonight. At least, that’s what I imagine. He would be going against Carey Price, as Price has had a comeback season with a .917 save percentage and a 2.56 goals against average. The Canadiens have back-to-back games, but Antti Niemi has an .889 save percentage this season, and the Canadiens are in the market for a backup goaltender. They will probably get one to play tomorrow night against Detroit.

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game with the trade deadline? Do you think Johansson will be traded? Where should McLeod and Bastian line up? Will Kinkaid be traded? If not, will he or Schneider start? What should the Devils do on the top six if they don’t have Johansson? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.