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Game Preview #30: New Jersey Devils vs the Pittsburgh Penguins

Fresh off the first half of a back to back weekend, do the Devils have a chance against the red hot Penguins?

NHL: DEC 16 Golden Knights at Devils Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (10-13-5) at the Pittsburgh Penguins (16-8-5)

Disclaimer: this preview was written prior to the conclusion of last night’s game against Detroit, so predictions, stats, and records will not reflect the outcome of that game.

SBN Blog: PensBurgh

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

Heading Into Tonight

Well, the Devils have been... not good. I will say that their recent game against Vegas showed lots of improvement, but before that the losing streak has not shown much promise of ending. Poor, scrambled play, incomprehensible line combinations choices, plus injuries and illness have all kneecapped the Devils last dozen or so games. Thurday night’s game did feature both a powerplay and a shorthanded goal as well as an effective comeback response however, so I will continue to hold out hope for an improvement coming soon. Hopefully tonight?

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, have not been struggling much. They are 16-8-5, coming off wins against Buffalo, Montreal, Anaheim, Washington, Seattle, and Vancouver. Their last loss was December first against the Edmonton Oilers. They have also somehow managed to avoid the covid outbreaks that have hit other teams hard, including us— as of this writing, they did not have a single player out on covid protocol, which is amazing considering Vancouver, Washington, Seattle, and Edmonton all have players on the list currently. They have also recovered from their injury woes that struck early in the season— only Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, and Bryan Rust remain out with long term injury, recently joined by Brian Boyle who has a minor lower body injury.

Pittsburgh does share something with the Devils though— their powerplay as also absolute crap. They are right next to us on the rankings, with only a 15.66% success rate to our 12.82% (which is still much worse, but still. 15% is bad. They finished last season at 25%). Unfortunately, unlike their struggling powerplay, they are number one in the league in penalty kill, with a whopping 92.96% kill rate, which is just utterly ridiculous. The Devils are somewhere in the low middle with 79.31%.

I have low expectations.

On To The Lines:

For the Devils, Mackenzie Blackwood suffered a neck injury in Thursday’s game after bring run into by Tatar, so we are down to goalie strings 3 and 4. Subban is still on Covid protocol, as are Nico Hischier, Ryan Graves, Janne Kuokkanen, and Christian Jaros. Hooray.

Zacha - Hughes - Tatar
Johnsson - Mercer - Bratt
Kuokkanen - Sharangovitch - Studenic
Vesey - McLeod - Bastian

Smith - Hamilton
Siegenthaler - Severson
Geertsen - Bahl

Gillies/Schmid

For the Penguins:

Rodigues - Crosby - Kapanen
Zucker - Carter - Heinen
Aston-Reese - Blueger - McGinn
O-Connor - Lafferty - Simon

Dumoulin - Letang
Petterson - Marino
Matheson - Ruhwedel

Murray

Leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments, and thanks for reading!