The Time: 7:00 PM
The Broadcast: TV - MSG
Getting What We Wanted: Yesterday from practice, these lines were released:
Here’s what the lineup looked like at #NJDevils practice this morning ... lots of changes.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) March 11, 2020
Jack Hughes back at center
Kuokkanen up playing with Jack
McLeod moves to wing
Hayden the extra forward
Claesson remains out, lower body injury. pic.twitter.com/Zyxzn4oMpx
I think the most important move here is getting Jack Hughes back at center. Although the whole third line is 22 years old or younger, I am not worried about the physicality on the wings tonight. Janne Kuokkanen is 6’1” and 194 pounds - an average NHLer - and he looked fine on the fourth line on Tuesday. Michael McLeod is 6’2” and 188 pounds, and has played plenty against bottom six competition in the NHL going back to last season. I think they’ll be an interesting - and certainly a fast line to watch. Here’s a listen from Jack Hughes on his experiences at a new position:
Jack Hughes discusses playing center and wing and what he's learned from the experience of switching.— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 11, 2020
"It’s been good having to play wing for a lot of years really. Try to learn that position a little more.”#WeAreTheOnes | #NJDevils pic.twitter.com/eZ9deMePOx
Also interesting is Travis Zajac on the fourth line. I wonder how Alain Nasreddine plans on using his checking line tonight. I think he should use Rooney, Zajac, and Anderson to shut down Carolina’s top scorers. Three Hurricanes players have more than 40 points - Andrei Svechnikov (24G-37A/61P), Teuvo Teravainen (15G-48A/63P), and Sebastian Aho (38G-28A/66P). Those three should regularly play on the same line, so throwing the fourth line against them for five to 10 minutes a game should really help the other lines with their matchups. Not only are Rooney and Zajac very effective defensively, but Joey Anderson might end up being one of our best defensive forwards over the next couple of years. Here is his isoalted impact chart for this season, from @IneffectiveMath:
Don’t underestimate the shutdown value of Joey Anderson. If Nasreddine plays his cards right, he can send out the Hischier line mostly against Carolina’s second line, and the Zacha line mostly against Carolina’s third line.
Goalie: Nasreddine announced his starter last night:
- #NJDevils Cory Schneider will start in goal against the Hurricanes tomorrow night.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) March 11, 2020
On the season, Cory Schneider is now 3-6-2 with an .887 save percentage, 3.53 goals against average, and a shutout. In the 2020 calendar year, Schneider is 3-2-1 in seven appearances with a .922 save percentage with a 2.48 goals against average. If Schneider plays a few more games with a save percentage above .900, he should break that mark for the whole season.
Warning About COVID-19: As of the time of writing this, the NHL has decided to move forward with games. You can read their statement here:
As you can see, there might be a change made to their course of action today. That means that the game being previewed here might not happen - and we will not know until this afternoon.
That said, if this game is played at all, and it is played in front of fans, take precautions if you attend. If you have respiratory or cardiac conditions, or are an older adult or senior, COVID-19 is more likely to cause serious effects. Stay safe, primarily.
Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game? Do you think the Devils can win? How do you feel about the adjustments made to the lineup by Alain Nasreddine? Do you think he was right to put Zajac on the fourth line rather than have him play at wing? Would you rather see the fourth line match up against the Carolina fourth line or use it as a shutdown line? Do you think Kuokkanen and McLeod are a good fit for Hughes? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.