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Game Preview #60: New Jersey Devils vs the San Jose Sharks

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The Devils will look to get back in the win column against the evenly-matched, well-rested San Jose Sharks

NHL: New Jersey Devils at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Match-up: NJ Devils (22-27-10) vs the San Jose Sharks (26-29-4)

The Time: 7 pm

The Channel: MSG+

The Stats:

Devils Sharks

PP% 15.8%/27th 16.4%/25th
PK% 81.2%/14th 85.9%/1st
GF/G 2.63/26th 2.57/27th
GA/G 3.34/30th 3.24/27th
SV% .895/28th .894/29th
HDCF/G 10.62/19th 11.15/10th
HDCA/G 10.34/9th 12.06/28th

The Lineups:

Sharks-

Meier - Thornton - Labanc
Marleau - Goodrow - Noesen
M.Karlsson - Kellman - Sorensen
Gambrell - True - Gregor

Heed - Burns
Vlasic - Simek
Middleton - Ferraro
Dell

Devils-

????? Who knows but I’ll hazard a guess-

Hughes - Hischier - Palmieri
Wood - Zajac - Gusev
Bratt - Zacha - Simmonds
Anderson - Rooney - Merkley

Butcher/Vatanen? - Subban
Mueller - Severson
White - Carrick
Blackwood

Jesper Bratt was scratched last game for ‘inconsistent effort/performance’, so there’s a chance he isn’t handed his spot on the first line back just yet. If he is, we may see a Zacha - Hughes - Simmonds third line instead. I’m guessing that second line will stay the same, as much as I know the fanbase is going to hate it, but honestly it was the best line by far in the last game against the Blues. Considering how much this team has leaned towards the Wood-Zajac-Coleman and Coleman-Zajac-Gusev lines in the past season and a half, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that as the new main L2. As for the fourth line, Nick Merkley had better stay in the lineup, and that’s all I’ll say on that.

Defense is even more of a disaster at the moment than it has been the rest of the season. Top pairing Mirco Mueller is an eyesore and I’m praying its trade bait, but even so I still refuse to write it. Will Butcher was injured during the last game and we haven’t received an update on him yet, but the Devils have not called another defenseman up at this point as far as I know so I’m going with the assumption he’s either going to be able to play or Sami Vatanen will be ready to come off IR. If they’re both able to slot in then who knows but Colton White will most likely sit.

The Outlook: San Jose is one of the few teams that’s really aiming to keep the Devils company down at the bottom of all the statistical leaderboards. The two teams are neck and neck in nearly every category, with two notable exceptions. The Devils have a decent penalty kill at 81.2% effectiveness, putting them 14th overall in the league. The Sharks are on top of the league with a 85.9% PK. They’re also a bit better in high danger chances for per game. On the other hand, the Devils are a bit better at giving up fewer high danger chances against— a small difference but when both teams are vying for worst save percentage, I’ll take the two less chances.

San Jose has one other major problem— They’re missing a large portion of their team. Many teams have been bit by the injury bug this season, but San Jose has had some major losses. Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl are both out for the remainder of the season. Logan Couture is out an expected 6 weeks with an ankle fracture. Dalton Prout played only two games after his return from injury before returning to the IR indefinitely. Not including Prout, the Sharks currently have 36 goals, 112 points, and 61:39 TOI/G sitting on the IR.

Your Take: Who wins tonight’s battle of mediocrity? What does your ideal lineup for tonight look like? Leave your predictions in the comments and thanks for reading!