The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (2-1-1) at the Montreal Canadiens (3-1-1).
The Time: 7:15 PM ET
The Broadcast: MSGSN2, ESPN+
Yesterday, I posted an article about the necessity and fragility of depth, and it seemed like the other shoe dropped just as the article was scheduled to go up, with Tomas Nosek being placed on IR. In his place, the Devils called up Cal Foote from Utica. I was left wondering if the Devils were more in need of a defenseman than forward, despite the minor injuries to HIschier and Haula — and this seems to be the case.
Lindy Ruff on #NJDevils defenseman Colin Miller: "He's going to be a little bit of time, we don't know how long yet."— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) October 23, 2023
Miller was injured in practice last week.
With Foote up and Nosek on IR, I wonder how long it will take for the Devils to put Miller on IR. There are a few forward options available in Utica: it’s not as extensive of a group as the defensemen, but I still imagine there is a player or two that Fitzgerald and Ruff would want to at least bring up for the practices. Not calling anyone up would leave the team with only Chris Tierney as an extra — but at least the team gets to head back to New Jersey right after the game tonight.
On Nico Hischier and Erik Haula's status for Tuesday's game against Montreal Lindy Ruff said that they should be able to play if all goes well.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) October 23, 2023
Both returned to practice today and will be followed up with tomorrow. #NJDevils
As for our injured centers, they were available for yesterday’s practices and were full participants. Thus, we should not have to worry about them missing tonight’s game, unless their injuries somehow worsened overnight. To be honest, I was a bit surprised they kept Erik Haula out of Friday’s game, considering what a intense competitor he is. But there is really no point to risk injury — not when turning a short-term into a long-term injury would leave the team without one of its most important players.
Montreal has gotten out to a good start, led in scoring by Cole Caufield, Tanner Pearson, and Sean Monahan — each with five points in five games. Each of those three were hurt or did not play much last year, with the most surprising start coming from Pearson, who has not scored 40 points in a season since 2019-20. Meanwhile, Jake Allen has been very good in net for the Canadiens in three games played, with a .929 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average. We, however, should not see him tonight.
By comparison, the 27-year old Sam Montembeault has an .892 save percentage through two games. In his career, he has a .896 save percentage and 3.49 goals against average in 105 games played. He should be facing Vitek Vanecek for the Devils, as Akira Schmid played Friday night’s game. That said, Lindy Ruff could very well switch the order to have Vitek play tomorrow night at home against the Capitals. But, I would hope they continue to alternate.
The Canadiens have played surprisingly well so far this season, with an 11-2 goals ratio at five-on-five. This is bound to regress, as they only have a 52.25 xGF% — and even the best teams of all-time would not outscore opponents 5 to 1. The Canadiens have struggled, though, at making stops on the penalty kill, as well as preventing shorthanded chances against. But with a rejuvenated roster and more offensive depth than they’ve been recently used to, Montreal will be competitive.
With the Devils struggling at five-on-five and doing very well on special teams, tonight should be a night to round out their games and get more into a groove. The Devils played Devils hockey on Friday, but they still needed the power play to win. Until they get going at even strength, they are going to continue struggling to pull off convincing wins.
What do you think about tonight’s game? Will the Devils get going at evens? Or will they continue to rely on special teams? Who should start in net tonight? What do you think of Montreal? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.