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Game Preview #3: New Jersey vs the Washington Capitals

Will the Devils take this season to 3-0, or will the Capitals march on to their third victory?

NHL: Seattle Kraken at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (2-0-0) vs the Washington Capitals (2-0-1).

SBN Blog: Jaspers Rink

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

Coming into Tonight:

The Devils are coming into this game hot off their second win of the season. Unfortunately, we are heading in still missing Mackenzie Blackwood, still missing Ty Smith, still missing Miles Wood, and now missing Jack Hughes again as well. Not great. Although for those holding out hope for a Ty Smith season debut, I doubt it will be tonight, but Lindy Ruff’s cryptic answer when Amanda Stein asked about it might signal a return sooner than later.

The Capitals have had a strong start to the season. They wiped the floor with the Rangers 5-1 in their regular season opener and then the Avalance 6-3 last night, although they did lose to the Lightning in overtime in between, which isn’t as impressive considering the Lightning actually haven’t looked very good so far this year.

The Capitals have been okay on the powerplay, but especially good at drawing power plays, with 3 goals— all against the Rangers already so far on a whopping 21 powerplays for a success rate of 12% so far. They did allow a shorthanded goal against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. The Caps have also scored a shorthanded goal this season, also against the Rangers on opening night. They’ve alllowed 2 goals on 10 penalties for a kill rate of 80%.

The Capitals are also coming into tonight missing a top center. Nicklas Backstrom is still out rehabbing from hip surgery.

Capitals Lines:

Based on yesterday at practice, via Caps beat reporter Samantha Pell:

Ovechkin - Kuznetsov - Wilson
Mantha - Eller - Sprong
Sheary - McMichael - Lapierre/Oshie
Hagelin - Dowd - Hathaway

Fehervary - Carlson
Orlov - Jensen
vanRiemsdyk - Schultz

Samsonov played against the Avalanche Tuesday, I would imagine we will see Vitek Vanacek but don’t base your fantasy plans around that.

I highly doubt Hendrix Lapierre will play over TJ Oshie, so either expect to see him in place of McMichael again or he will be on the bench.

Devils Lines

Based on yesterday at practice, via Amanda Stein:

Zacha - Hischier - Bratt
Sharangovitch - McLeod - Kuokkanen
Johnsson - Mercer - Tatar
Geertsen - Gauthier - Vesey/Studenic

Graves - Hamilton
Siegenthaler - Subban
Severson - Jaros
Smitth - White

Bernier

Based on the sheer volume of powerplays the Capitals have been drawing each game, plus comments Lindy Ruff made after practice about tonight’s game being “one of our toughest, most physical games”, I fully anticipate Studenic sitting in favor of Mason Geertsen again. Don’t shoot the messenger, please.

Game Predictions

The Capitals have come out strong for two periods and then faded into the third period every single game they’ve played this year. Both the first two games they dropped to only 35%CF in the third. The last game was a little better with 47%CF in the third, but that’s still a significant drop from the 75% they had in the first period of that game.

The question for tonight is going to be, can the Devils hold off the Capitals in the first 40 minutes when they come out hard? Can the Devils prevent their own third period collapse and hang on for the win when the Capials onslaught fades?

Personally, I’m feeling a come from behind 4-3 win tonight if we can stay disciplined and get things going later in the game when we have the opportunities.

I’ll be keeping my eye on Andreas Johnsson and Michael McLeod tonight. Johnsson, to see if he can continue the strong streak of play he’s been surprising me with so far this season. McLeod is getting a promotion tonight with the absence of Hughes again, and I’ll be interested to see how he’ll handle the bump up to the 2nd line with Sharangovitch.

Your Thoughts

Will we extend our winning streak to 3 tonight? Or will the Capitals take advantage of our depleted lineup and hand us our first defeat of the season? Who are you keeping your eye on tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for reading!