The Time: 7:00 PM
The Broadcast: TV - MSGSN
Time to Switch It Up Again
The Devils had won a couple of games last week with a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen, as Lindy Ruff decided to have a rotating fourth line winger alongside Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian. While this worked for a spell against the Islanders and Sharks, I do not think it’s necessary to split shifts between Ryan Graves, Kevin Bahl, and Brendan Smith as the fifth, sixth, and seventh defensemen by ice time. There has not really been a game this season where I thought that Brendan Smith should be playing over any of the scratches.
It turns out, the Devils need more offensive firepower - more control of the puck, and more intense play. The Devils struggled to bury chances that they had against the Washington Capitals, and it cost them as the Capitals had too big of a lead by the time the team started scoring. With a practicing fifth line of Fabian Zetterlund, Jesper Boqvist, and Alex Holtz - Lindy Ruff has the option to insert a breath of fresh air. Could Erik Haula handle fourth line duties with Miles Wood at his side so these guys can get into the lineup? I would certainly like to think so.
When goalies play poorly, some people tend to think, “oh, he’s due” - or argue that their poor results could not possibly continue. In the case of last night, Mackenzie Blackwood seemed due for a poor game after having three stellar starts in a row. Perhaps this was not his fault - the Capitals outclassed the Devils in the finish department, and the defense paid him no favors with their turnovers. Perhaps Lindy Ruff could have given Vitek Vanecek a jolt with a start against his former team. Maybe. The Red Wings are coming off a five goal game in which they got 41 shots through to the net, though. The Devils are going to have to prepare Vanecek so this start does not go like his last one.
Red Wings Injury Report
Currently, the Red Wings have three players on injured reserve. Tyler Bertuzzi was hurt against the Devils, and there is no news regarding his return. Robbi Fabbri will be out until January, and defenseman Jake Walman is practicing in a non-contact jersey. Jakub Vrana, who scored against the Devils in his last game on October 15, is out in the NHL Player Assistance Program. We here at All About the Jersey give our best wishes to Jakub Vrana.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Do you think the Devils have a shot in the back-to-back? Do you think that Vanecek will play a good game? Do you think that Ruff will make a new lineup? Will Holtz, Zetterlund, or Boqvist play? Will Bahl stay in over Smith? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.