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Game Preview #40: New Jersey Devils at New York Islanders

It’s a new decade, and now the Devils need to grow.

NHL: New York Islanders at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (14-19-6) at the New York Islanders (25-10-3). SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey

The Time: 7:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV - NBCSN

Post-Streak Return to Normalcy: The Islanders’ point pace has dropped significantly since the start of the season, when they had a 17 game point streak. Since that streak ended, they’ve gone 9-7-1, and 6-3-1 in their last ten games. It is fortunate for the Devils that their first game against the Islanders came after the end of that streak, but most games are difficult for the Devils regardless.

New Goalie In Town: The Islanders signed former Washington (2008-11) and Colorado (2011-2019) goaltender Semyon Varlamov to a four-year contract with a cap hit of $5,000,000 this past offseason. After finishing second in Vezina voting in 2013-14, Varlamov had some injuries and a couple down years that made it seem questionable for the Islanders to make the move for the 31 year old goaltender. However, in the 20 starts Varlamov has had this season, the Islanders have gone 14-3-3 - and Varlamov has a .920 save percentage, 2.43 goals against average, and one shutout.

Scoring Again: After having a really bad season in which he was traded twice and only had 24 points in 70 games, Derek Brassard looked like he may be on track for a quick fall from the NHL. Since being signed by the Islanders, Brassard has eight goals and 12 assists in 38 games, and has not been a possession drag for the Islanders (-0.3 relative CF%). This means that the Islanders will have multiple centers with 20 or more points when they face the Devils tonight, as Brassard is joined by Brock Nelson (30) and Mathew Barzal (34). Nico Hischier is the only Devils center with 20 or more points, as he has 23 this season.

New Year...Same Old or Progress?: The Devils had been playing decent hockey to finish 2019, going 5-2-1 in their last eight. Since Alain Nasreddine is trying to make a case for why he should be an NHL head coach, I would expect the team to continue playing harder than they had at the start of the season. If the young players on the Devils make progress, the team will probably end with a mediocre, but not bottom-of-the-league, record. If the team starts playing like they did under Hynes, however, and regresses as they’ve shown themselves equally capable of, then the year would be a total loss.

Roster Move: Because he’s apparently been deserving of a goaltender job in the NHL this season, the Devils activated Louis Domingue off Injured Reserve and he will dress tonight as the backup. Therefore, the team has sent down Gilles Senn, who saved 35 of 38 shots in his only start. I don’t see why the team couldn’t have given Senn a longer look, since his positive development would mean a long-term starter-backup duo.

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game? Do you think the Devils can win? Do you think the Islanders will start racking up points again in the near future? Who are you most looking forward to watching play tonight against Lou’s Islanders? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.