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Game Preview #54: New Jersey Devils @ Columbus Blue Jackets

The Devils head to Columbus after scoring 7 against Jack’s brother’s team last night

New Jersey Devils v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (19-29-5) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (27-25-1)

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lineup

Lindy Ruff could go with the same lineup that dominated the Canucks or give someone a bit of rest. Ty Smith is usually a lineup regular but was benched yesterday, and he could draw back in on the 2nd half of the back-to-back. Mason Geertsen and Christian Jaros were the other scratches last night. I must say I’d prefer for them to stay on the bench. I think that with the big win, Smith probably stays out. In net is a more difficult question. Nico Daws is a young goaltender playing in a season that’s probably lost, but he is also the only Devils goaltender who gives them a chance to win. Typically coaches like to give goaltenders, especially young ones, lots of rest. However, as I said, Daws is the only goaltender who gives the Devils a chance to win.

This was yesterday’s lineup:

Can Daws be the answer?

The biggest killer for the Devils team this year has been poor goaltending. Blackwood, Schmid, and Gillies have been sinking the team and Bernier wasn’t great either. While I’m not jumping too hard on the Daws hype train, he certainly looks good so far. In the AHL he had a .918 sv% and has saved 75 of the last 78 shots he’s faced in the NHL. If Daws can be at least an average NHL goaltender it would be huge for a team that’s struggled in net all year.

The Last Meeting

The most recent game between these two teams was on January 1st. The final score was a 4-3 Columbus victory. Devils-killer Oliver Bjorkstrand had 2 goals, including the game winner. Shots on goal were 34-30 in favor of Columbus.

Columbus has actually been pretty decent this year, with more wins than combined losses. Unlike in previous years, their offense seems better than their defense this year. Columbus has the same amount of goals against as New Jersey while having just 1 less goal than Washington and 3 less goals than 2nd place Pittsburgh in 2 less games. Patrik Laine has over a point per game this year, with 36 in 33. Boone Jenner currently leads the Jackets in points with 41 in 53. Voracek is a close second with 36 assists but just 2 goals in 51 games played.

Carry Yesterday’s Energy

The Devils showed up big yesterday, beating the Vancouver Canucks 7-2. Several different Devils had multi-point games. Nico Daws allowed only 2 goals on 38 shots. You can’t be expected to score 7 goals every game, but keeping the momentum going and staying hot offensively could be important as the team learns how to win.

Your Thoughts

Any morning-after thoughts about yesterday’s touchdown? What do you think about ESPN+ so far? Joining the Nico Daws fan club? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thank you for reading.