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Game Preview #59: New Jersey Devils at St. Louis Blues

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The Devils had a day off after their win versus Columbus. Tonight, they take on the team that came back from last place to win the Stanley Cup last year.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at New Jersey Devils Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils at the St. Louis Blues

The Time: 8:00 PM

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

Post-Greene/Coleman World: The New Jersey Devils will have to play the rest of the season without their best even strength goal scorer and budding power play option in Blake Coleman and possibly their best two penalty killers in him and Andy Greene. This will be the first game where the team has actually planned and practiced for those situations without them in the picture.

Alain Nasreddine played Miles Wood on the second line last game with Travis Zajac and Nikita Gusev - a line he has relied on for a lot of tough situations and matchups since he’s taken over as coach. I do not think that will be viable moving forward, as that line got cratered last game with a 30.00 CF% on 13 shots and a goal against to only just five shots for the Devils with them on the ice. The sudden lack of dynamic defensive skill at left wing really hurts the line’s usability. Alain Nasreddine should seek other options down the lineup to take the second line left wing spot.

In lieu of Andy Greene, Colton White played the most minutes on the penalty kill amongst defensemen at just 2:22. The Devils allowed two high danger scoring chances with White on the ice, but his expected to goals against was only 0.19 to Mirco Mueller’s 0.55 according to Natural Stat Trick. For now, I think that Colton White should probably get an extended chance to be the penalty kill specialist, but I’m not sure if P.K. Subban is a great pairing option. Subban is not very reliable positionally, and I fear his unnecessary extra moves and risks might put too much burden on the rookie White.

The Blues Power Play: The penalty kill might be very important to the game’s watchability tonight. The Blues have a 24.71% conversion rate on the power play with 43 goals in 174 opportunities. David Person, Brayden Schenn, and Haden Schwartz all have nine goals. Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo, and David Perron lead the team in power play assists with 15, 16, and 17, respectively.

Depth Play: However, the Blues are not an unbeatable team. 10 of the players on the Blues who have played 30 or more games have a CF% under 50, with the lowest percentage being Ivan Barbashev’s 45.7 (57 games). Their bottom six still contributes points - but a good deal of the secondary scorers are defensive weaknesses to the Blues. Jack Hughes especially needs to take advantage of good matchup opportunities tonight. Hopefully, Nick Merkley and Joey Anderson also continue their positive start.

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game? How do you think the team should adjust to the loss of their captain and one of their top three forwards? What do you make of the Blues’ great comeback last season? How far should the Devils go in selling the team? Will there be any last games for anyone on the team tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.