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Game Preview #36: Devils vs the Washington Capitals

As the saying goes, 8th time’s the charm! Right?

NHL: Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (13-16-6) at the Washington Capitals (24-8-4). SBN blog: Japers Rink

The Time: 3:00 PM

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+, NHL

The Devils are now 7-0 against the Capitals this season. Friday night may have been our closest loss yet, making it all the way to just 20 seconds left in overtime before a shot I still have yet to see actually go in the net cost us the game. The importance of playing every second aside, we had some great chances especially immediately before Orlov’s goal in overtime. I bet we’ll have even more scoring chances this game if we get the puck on net! The Capitals outshot us two times over, included 20 shots to 30 at 5v5. The key issue here? The Capitals only out-attempted us by two shots at 5v5. On 3:23 powerplay time they attempted a whopping 8 shots and only missed a single time. In an identical 3:23 of powerplay time, the Devils attempted ONE shot, and we missed it. We are absolutely not good enough at 5v5 to win games that way, and considering our PK allowed 8 shots in 3 and a half minutes, we definitely can’t expect to score that way either.

We actually matched the Capitals in scoring chances 17 to 18, and had 60% of the high danger scoring chances at 5v5. Obviously our powerplay had 0 scoring chances— the Caps had four, three of which were high danger.

The key to maybe pulling a win tonight just to ruin Washington’s perfect record against us? Stay out of the box, and start shooting on powerplays. That’s honestly all I can ask. Here’s hoping that’s not too high of an expectation.

Now, for the Lineups:

For Washington:

Ovechkin- Eller - Oshie
Sheary - Backstrom - Wilson
Hagelin - Dowd - Hathaway
Sprong - Kuznetsov - Panik

Dillon - Carlson
Orlov - Shultz
Chara - Jensen


For the Devils:

Once again Ruff played lineup blender last game, but here’s how things lined up at practice yesterday:

Johnsson - Hughes - Palmieri
Kuokkanen - Zajac - Sharangovitch
Maltsev - Zacha - Wood
Bratt - McLeod - Boqvist

Smith - Severson
Kulikov - Subban
Murray - Vatanen


If anyone has any explanation on what in the name of all things holy is going on with Johnsson on the first line and Bratt on the fourth, I am painfully curious. I just really can’t see that being our best move for success. Johnsson’s line with Wood and Zacha played well as a whole last night, I won’t argue that, but there was little from Johnsson himself and the bit I saw certainly wasn’t offensively dynamic. I think Bratt is actually a good fit for McLeod and Boqvist, but I hope they aren’t stuck with fourth line minutes. I don’t dislike the rest of the lines as a whole, but there’s plenty of people I think could work better as a winger for Hughes than Mango. A certain Russian I think should have stayed in favor of Johnsson being waived, perhaps. But alas, this is what we’re going with.

Your Take:

How do you feel about these lineup changes? What’s the number one thing we need to do in order to finally get a win against the Capitals today? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for reading!