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Preseason Game Preview #1: New Jersey Devils at Washington Capitals

In the first preseason game of the year, the Devils will take on the Washington Capitals. Let the cuts begin.

NHL: Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils against the Washington Capitals. SBN Blog: Japers’ Rink

The Time: 7:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

The Opposition

The New Jersey Devils should expect to see one of the most lethal offensive lines in the NHL tonight, as Tom Gulitti reports that the following practice group will comprise most of the lineup.

Unlike the New Jersey Devils, the Washington Capitals have already had a chance to give some of their depth camp spots a look in a preseason game. They lost in a shootout, 3-2, to the Boston Bruins on Sunday. The only players in the lines Gulitti posted that played on Sunday were Hendrix Lapierre, Connor McMichael, and Brian Pinho. Hendrix Lapierre had two assists and a shot on goal in 15:03 on Sunday, while neither McMichael nor Pinho were on the scoresheet, with TOIs of 15:55 and 11:50, respectively. Pinho is an organizational depth player who has played well for the Hershey Bears, while McMichael was their 2019 first round draft pick. Hendrix Lapierre was also a first round draft pick in 2020. While Pinho may be out of the lineup, I would keep an eye on how well any Devils prospects match up against players like Lapierre and McMichael.

The Devils’ Practice Groups

The Devils have been practicing in three groups during training camp. They have not been full lines, with only three forward lines and five defensemen in each group. Here are groups B and C:

And here is group A:

I would look for one of Team A or B to play tonight. Lindsay Ruff would probably like to see how well Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes can each fare against top lines at full health. Given what Laviolette said about which guys he will play, they should have a chance to matchup against Alex Ovechkin tonight. If they play at all, Gauthier and Gambardella might round out the bottom of the lineup with some sort of mashed-up line. As for the third defensive pairing, Ruff would have a choice between Groleau, Russo, and Wotherspoon. These games are about training camp cuts, so expect to see as many of the Devils’ bottom-of-the-depth chart types in the game tonight as Ruff can feasibly line up and keep the game competitive in terms of matchups.

Also something to watch tonight is how Ruff plays the penalty kill. He will have a chance to match up his penalty killers against one of the most effective power plays in the league, so Nasreddine needs to bring his A-coaching game tonight. I think Team A, with players like McLeod, Schnarr, and Zetterlund would be a good group to go up against Ovechkin on the power play. However, this could present a great test for some of the younger prospects who might make their living on the kill, like Chase Stillman. I look forward to seeing how Ruff lines his guys up tonight - it should be interesting to watch if nothing else.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of tonight’s game? What group do you want to see make up most of the lineup? How do you feel about matching Hischier or Hughes against Washington’s top line? How do you feel the backup goalies in each group might fare against Ovechkin and company? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.