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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils at the Colombus Blue Jackets

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In their last preseason game of the year, the Devils are off to Colombus as Pavel Zacha makes his preseason debut.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets
Pavel Zacha needs to prove himself starting now.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Time: 7:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: MSG is terrible, and is not broadcasting the game.

Pavel Zacha is Back: After months of a question mark being over his head in regards to a contract, and a brief scare of him potentially moving to the KHL, Pavel Zacha appeared to have worked out his visa problem that was preventing him from joining the team after signing his contract. He is playing tonight, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to the improved abilities of his team.

Cuts: The New Jersey Devils have assigned Nathan Bastian and Michael McLeod to the NHL. This is very interesting as it indicates the coaching staff and Ray Shero had already made their decision what to do upon Pavel Zacha’s return to the team. They were not scheduled to play today anyway, but that cuts down the contention for roster spots significantly.

Who is Playing Today?:

Who Isn’t Playing Today: Personally, I think there’s a good chance that Jesper Boqvist has made the team. Given that he’s NHL-or-Europe, I think that he’s mostly safe. I think that Connor Carrick is up in the air, as it depends on what they want to do with forward-defensemen balance and who they like most between him and the other bubble defensemen.

Therefore, Who to Keep an Eye on?: Matt Tennyson, Ty Smith, and Mirco Mueller should be in a roster battle as of tonight, and they are playing tonight. Connor Carrick is not. John Hayden and Miles Wood are also at important crossroads for their near future. John Hayden has been surprisingly better than expected (to some extent) this preseason. Miles Wood has suddenly started lagging behind the team as it moves forward, and there does not seem to be a good fit for him on the team. Unless he can put in a good performance tonight, the coaching staff could reasonably be expected to be wary of using him in the starting lineup moving forward.

What To Be Excited For: This game will have four NHL-ready forward lines. Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Travis Zajac, and Pavel Zacha will all have the chance to center a line at the same time. That, in any NHL game, should give the New Jersey Devils a good chance to win. Taylor Hall has also been reuinited with Hischier and Bratt - which I look forward to seeing with Hischier and Bratt in their third year, and hopefully improving on their previous performances. The defense is not as NHL-capable as the forwards group, but the forwards look like a completed group (especially if Boqvist gets in the lineup in the regular season).

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game? Do you hate MSG Networks? Are you excited to see Hall, Hischier, and Hughes play at the same time? How do you expect Pavel Zacha will respond to the role he’s being thrown into after such a short time practicing with the team? Will this game decide who gets the majority of games in net? Who do you think will make the team among Mueller, Smith, and Tennyson? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.