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Game Preview #76: New Jersey Devils @ Vegas Golden Knights

The Devils head to Vegas for the first time in 2 years to face a team trying to jump into a playoff spot

Vegas Golden Knights v New Jersey Devils Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (26-42-7) head to T-Mobile Arena for the first time since March 3, 2020 to wrap up the season series against the Vegas Golden Knights (41-30-5)

The Time: 10:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: MSG+

This game is, as they have been for a while, another meaningless game for the Devils. For the Golden Knights however, this is almost a must-win game. The Devils are a team low in the standings, and the Knights are 4 points below the Nashville Predators, who currently possess the 2nd wild card spot in the West. Vegas has 6 games left including tonight. The Knights will probably play this game like it’s the playoffs. They pretty much need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. It’s not life or death, but certainly an important game for Vegas. The Devils will likely see some serious pressure and it will be interesting to see how they respond.

The previous matchup between the 2 teams was on December 16, 2021. That game was a 5-3 loss for the Devils, already down to 7th place in the Metropolitan Division. Blackwood and Lehner were the goalies in that game, and neither had a save percentage starting with a 9.

The Devils went with 13 forwards and 5 defensemen that game. 4 defenseman had a point. The only Devil with multiple points was Tomas Tatar, with a goal and an assist. Hague, Smith, Marchessault, and Karlsson all had 2 points for Vegas.

The Last Devils Game

The last Devils game was a 4-3 shootout loss to Seattle. The Jespers each had a goal, giving the Devils a 2-1 lead after the 1st period. Soucy tied the game after being left alone in front and Beniers gave the Kraken their first lead of the game on his first NHL goal, finding the loose puck behind Daws. Damon Severson tied the game in the 3rd period, but the Devils were unable to score in 3 rounds in the shootout while Donato did. You can read more about the game in Jared’s recap here.

Probable Lines

In the last games, the Devils’ lines went through the blender. This is what they were changed to, according to Amanda Stein:

The Zacha-Hischier-Bratt and Sharangovich-Boqvist-Kuokkanen lines have been reuinited, probably looking for chemistry. Johnsson-Mercer-Zetterlund seems like a pretty darn good 4th line, although I can’t say I’ve been watching what Zetterlund has been doing too closely.

These were Vegas’s lines in their game against Edmonton:

That last game for Vegas was a 4-0 loss to Edmonton. Vegas will want to respond to being shutout. I hope Vegas does come out hard, because I want to see how the Devils respond to that. Do they lapse defensively? Get sunk by bad goaltending but have decent skaters like most of the year? Or do they play solid defense and send the pressure to the other end of the ice? I’m almost excited to see what happens, even in a game that should be meaningless.

What do you think about tonight’s matchup? Do you think Vegas will pressure the Devils right out of the gate? If so, will the Devils respond or give in? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thank you for reading.