The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils versus the Detroit Red Wings.
The Time: 7:30 PM ET
The Broadcast: TV - ESPN+
The Detroit Red Wings are in the latter half of a rebuild, and have some excellent players in Dylan Larkin, Lucas Ramyond, David Perron, Alex Debrincat, and Moritz Seider. However, while the Red Wings’ future is looking up, they are a bit thin around the edges right now. As you can see in their full roster below, they have several “passenger” type players who might not make enough of an impact on the team for them to contend for a playoff spot. That said, they have plenty of offensive weapons at the top and should be given some respect.
The Devils and Our Narratives
Coming into this season, the New Jersey Devils have high expectations and the personnel to back it up. And with a perfect preseason — as little as it matters — I think fans are a little extra excited to see how the team does in the full regular season with Timo Meier, Tyler Toffoli, and Luke Hughes in the mix. But with that, let’s take a look at a few narratives and threads to keep track of going into tonight.
Alex Holtz and the Third Line
While Alex Holtz started the preseason on a line with Timo Meier and Nico Hischier, but Lindy Ruff was dissatisfied with how he performed on the top line. Even though this was enough to demote Holtz to the third line — where he should play with Erik Haula and Ondrej Palat tonight — it did seem like Holtz was skating better and playing a better 200-foot game during the preseason. Hopefully, with some experienced veterans guiding him on the line, Holtz can find a place by finishing plays and goal-scoring opportunities, and limiting any deficiencies on the defensive end.
Brendan Smith and Luke Hughes
While the Devils traded for Colin Miller in July, the veteran right-handed defenseman did not appear to win the third pairing job in training camp. In fact, Brendan Smith has been skating with Luke Hughes in practice — and we should see that pairing tonight. Do I like this? Yes — and I understand that some might not agree. However, Brendan Smith has played under Lindy Ruff for a full season and has a better idea of what this defensive system demands than Colin Miller. Does this mean this arrangement will last forever? Probably, and hopefully not. But for now, Smith is a fine third-pairing defenseman that can mix it up — and he looked like he was a bit faster in camp than last season.
How Much Can the Top Six Score?
A consequence of moving Alex Holtz to the third line is that Dawson Mercer has been moved back up top to the line with Meier and Hischier. After career years last year for Hischier and Mercer, how much can they do in a full year with Meier instead of Tomas Tatar? As for Jack Hughes, he will be skating with Jesper Bratt and Tyler Toffoli, with whom he made a lot of magic with in the preseason.
With Meier and Toffoli rounding out an already-dangerous top two lines, what do you think will happen tonight? As they match up against Detroit, I want to see them bring a heavy volume of shots — one that the Detroit defense will have a hard time keeping up with. Since their goaltending is suspect at best, I think the Devils should have a decent advantage as long as they do not take their foot off the pedal.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Who are you excited to see? What do you think the final score will be? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.