The Time: 7:00 PM
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+2
Last Game Before the Trade Deadline
The New Jersey Devils have already traded Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac, but that does not mean they have made their final move this season. The NHL Trade Deadline is tomorrow, April 12, at 3:00 PM Eastern Time. The Devils may or may not hold certain veterans out of this game in anticipation of a trade. For example, if Will Butcher draws into the lineup for Ryan Murray or Dmitry Kulikov, there might be a trade coming. If Josh Jacobs plays in place of Sami Vatanen or P.K. Subban, that’d be another indication.
The Devils could be looking to trade Aaron Dell, or less likely, Scott Wedgewood. I imagine they would play Dell tonight to try to get him one good start before the deadline to see if he can fetch a late-round pick in a future draft. Aaron Dell last played on Thursday, when the Devils defeated the Sabres - but he was not amazing in net.
An Answer For Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust were trouble for the Devils last game, with each putting up three points. Usually, matching up against that line would be something that the Travis Zajac line would handle. In 6:36 against Crosby, Jack Hughes had a 28.57 CF%, a goal against, and a 13.81 xGF%. This would be a situation where having a ready-to-play Nico Hischier would help the team immensely. This report, however, is from Friday:
#NJDevils Nico Hischier not yet ready for his return, but Coach Ruff says he is very close.— Erika Wachter (@ErikaWachter) April 9, 2021
Ruff would like to get the Captain another practice tomorrow. Hischier said Wednesday that getting his game-conditioning back up to speed was important to him before making a return.
If Nico Hischier does not play tonight, then Jack Hughes is likely to struggle again with his matchup against Sidney Crosby. The Penguins have been playing without Evgeni Malkin for awhile now, so whoever does not play the Pittsburgh top line would draw a matchup of Jared McCann, which is much less intimidating. Getting Nico into the lineup would also mean bumping someone out - and the McLeod line had a bad performance last night. We’ll see what the update is on Hischier later today.
Keeping the Zacha Line Hot
Miles Wood had two goals on Friday, while Jesper Bratt and Pavel Zacha’s assists brought them up to four-game point streaks. Both Zacha and Bratt have six points in their last four games, while Jesper Bratt seems ready to kick his play into another gear. He’s up to five goals and 19 assists in 33 games. Bratt has already gotten more assists than last season, when he had 16 in 60 games, and is only six away from his career high (51 games, 2018-19). If Nico Hischier is not in the lineup tonight and Jack Hughes’ line falters, I would not be entirely surprised if this line draws the Sidney Crosby matchup. In each of the last few games, they have had positive Corsi and xG differentials, and the Devils are going to need a good answer for the Pittsburgh top line if they want to compete tonight.
At the Rock
For those who are attending games now, tonight is a themed night for the Devils - it is Pride Night. I was wondering whether the team would resume its theme nights, and it seems they have. They will be wearing a new warmup jersey for today’s game.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Will you be watching? How do you think the Devils should approach the Crosby matchup without Travis Zajac? Do you think Hughes is up to the task? Or do you think another line needs to take that matchup? Who do you think will be in goal tonight? Scott Wedgewood or Aaron Dell? Will there be any more trades? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.