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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils at the Florida Panthers

The New Jersey Devils are in Florida for the last game of the season.

NHL: Florida Panthers at New Jersey Devils Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (30-41-10) at the Florida Panthers (36-32-13).

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Broadcast: MSG+2

Finally Over: The New Jersey Devils, at the end of this game, can finally put the 2018-19 season behind them. In a season full of injuries, disappointment, and regression, the Devils put up one of the worst road performances imaginable, racking up just 10 wins on the road after being a competitive team last season. Now, they get to finish it all out on the road too.

If They Lose: The Devils may fall to 30th in the NHL standings, as long as the Los Angeles Kings win their final game of the season. This would mean that the Devils get a pick in the top five in the 2019 NHL draft, as well as a 38.8% chance of getting a top three pick. And by all means, the Devils’ forward group is very much outclassed by the Florida Panthers given the Devils’ list of injuries. However, I wouldn’t count on the Kings giving help, as they play the Golden Knights tonight.

Status Quo: Would mean the Devils have the 29th worst place in the standings, and have a worst-case scenario of getting the sixth overall pick. All things considered, I would have thought the Devils were finishing much higher if I didn’t watch games and only listened to people worrying that they were winning too many games for their draft position. Regardless, the Devils cannot pass anyone tonight. So there are two ways this can all end - 29th, or 30th.

The Panthers’ Skaters: Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau have both broken the 90-point plateau - with 94 and 90 coming into this game, respectively. Barkov’s previous high was 78, and Huberdeau’s was 69. Both Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov have matched Huberdeau’s old career high, as they both set their lifetime high marks this season at 69 coming into this game.

One can only hope that next year, the Devils manage a top six with that much point production. With Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Kyle Palmieri around for a full season - plus, hopefully, a draft pick - the Devils need to get back to competitive scoring.

However: The struggle for the Panthers has been their defense and goaltending. Both Roberto Luongo and James Reimer have a .900 save percentage, and their goals against averages are nearly identical at 3.10 and 3.09, respectively. The Panthers will often outshoot their opponent, but never count out any team - even the Devils - from racking up a few goals against their inconsistent defensive situation.

Goalie Matchup: The matchup tonight will be Roberto Luongo versus MacKenzie Blackwood. Blackwood comes into tonight with a .917 save percentage and 2.59 goals against average.

No Practice: John Hynes opted to have no practice on the Devils’ travel day yesterday, so there are no lines or recent injury news to share. If I can, I’ll pass anything along.

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game? Are you sad that it’s all over for a few months? Or are you relieved? Do you think the Kings can help us out? What do you think about the Devils coaching situation moving forward? How quickly do you think we will hear about changes being made to the team after this game ends? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.