The Matchup: New Jersey Devils @ New York Islanders
The Time: 7:00 PM
The Broadcast: MSG, MSGSN
The Opposition: Light House Hockey
Last Devils Game
On Wednesday, the Devils defeated the New York Rangers, 5-2. As Caleb wrote, special teams carried New Jersey in that contest, as the power play looked like an unstoppable force (with Jonathan Quick proving very much not to be an immovable object), going 3-for-5 on the night. The win moved Jersey’s team to a perfect 6-0 during preseason play, and they have a chance to finish with a perfect preseason record with a win tonight.
Last Islanders Game
The Islanders battled the Philadelphia Flyers last night, dropping a 5-2 decision to Philly. New York only mustered 16 shots on goal, so it’s a wonder they even managed to score twice.
Just this past Monday, the Devils and Islanders matched up in what turned out to be a 6-5 victory for New Jersey. Jesper Bratt notched a hat trick and John Marino scored twice in that one.
In the most recent round of cuts, New Jersey saw Cal Foote clear waivers, meaning he will join the Utica Comets. We also Jeremy Brodeur join Foote on the journey to upstate New York:
#NEWS: We have assigned D Cal Foote (after clearing waivers earlier today) to Utica (AHL).— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) October 5, 2023
G Jeremy Brodeur was also assigned to Utica.
The final roster moves are right around the corner. After all the discussion on this very website and all across the Devils fandom, we will finally get answers as to who stays and who goes. Tyce Thompson and Nolan Foote are the most notable young players vying for a spot on the backend of the roster up front. Nate Bastian, Curtis Lazar, and Tomas Nosek are probably the most notable veterans who are battling Thompson and Foote for the final roster spots among the forwards. Each of those players has varying degrees of job security, and it will be interesting to see what direction Devils management goes in that regard.
On the blueline, Simon Nemec still has an outside shot of making the team out of camp. It seems his best chance of making it is supplanting Brendan Smith or Colin Miller, though I personally find it hard to believe he’ll be able to do that. Perhaps you disagree, but despite Miller having a lackluster preseason so far and Smith being Smith, I think the only way Nemec could have usurped either of the veterans is if he played lights out hockey and forced his way onto the team, sort of like Bratt back in 2017. Either way, we will get our much-awaited roster answers soon enough.
So Who Plays Tonight?
Good question! For reference, here’s how the Devils lined up against the Rangers on Wednesday:
Next, there’s this little nugget from Ms. Stein:
I should add that Haula is fine, just a day off. https://t.co/5UTqcGtDRn— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) October 5, 2023
Lindy Ruff confirms that Nate Bastian will be among those playing tomorrow for #NJDevils.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) October 5, 2023
Most of the #NJDevils regulars appear to be done practicing and have gone to the locker room.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) October 5, 2023
Those who I assume are likely playing tomorrow remain for some special teams work.
So to recap, Erik Haula took a vet day on Thursday, Bastian is confirmed in for this evening’s contest, and that’s about all we have as far as solid info right now. I couldn’t find who the players were that Stein referenced in her final
tweet post about the players who stuck around for some special teams work. It looks like we’ll have to wait until later today to see how New Jersey will line up in their final preseason game. I’ll be interested to see if Lindy Ruff decides to go with a squad filled with tons of regulars like the game on Wednesday, a squad filled with young and/or less established players trying to make the team, or a balance of both. If I had to guess, I would say he sends the young guys and fringe roster players out there this evening, but what do I know.
In the Other Corner...
It will be a short turnaround for the Isles, having played the Flyers just last night. It was a roster light on expected regulars, as New York did not dress -among other notables- Mat Barzal, Bo Horvat, Brock Nelson, Adam Pelech, or Ryan Pulock.
But if you’re thinking that we won’t see any of the players who skated against Philadelphia last night, Islanders head coach Lane Lambert is here to tell you that you just might be surprised...maybe:
With a long stretch upcoming until Oct. 14 regular-season opener, #Isles Lane Lambert said it's possible some players play back-to-back in final two preseason games, Thursday in Philly and Friday at home vs. Devils.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 4, 2023
Meanwhile, old pal Kyle Palmieri, who was injured before the preseason even began, is working his way back into New York’s lineup:
#Isles Lane Lambert on integrating Kyle Palmieri back into group: "He had been skating on his own, doing some really productive stuff. So I don't think it's that long of a window."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 4, 2023
Lambert not tipping his hand on whether Palmieri might play in either of last two preseason games.
He didn’t play last night, though given the (admittedly vague) update from Lambert, it’s possible we see him this evening. Lou must really be rubbing off on Lambert given how close to the vest he plays things.
Preseason Juggernauts: A Good or Bad Thing?
As mentioned, the Devils will officially end the preseason undefeated if they find a way to win tonight. Is a perfect preseason a sign of great things to come in the regular season? Well...
The Devils are looking to become the first team since the 2016-17 Avalanche to go undefeated in the preseason tomorrow.— Ryan Novozinsky (@ryannovo62) October 5, 2023
(The Avs went 22–56–4 that year).
I don’t know about you, but I for one would be a tad upset if the Devils were to register a 22-56-4 record this upcoming season. So I guess we should be rooting for the Devils to lose tonight since winning guarantees the team a horrifically bad season, right? Not so fast!
NHL teams that finished a preseason with an undefeated record since 2005-06:— (@KMcKenna_NHL) October 5, 2023
05-06: SJS, 7-0-0
07-08: OTT, 7-0-0
10-11: CGY, 7-0-0
16-17: COL, 6-0-0
The 2005-06 San Jose Sharks finished with 99 points and won a playoff round. The 2007-08 Ottawa Senators finished with 94 points and made the playoffs, losing in the first round to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2010-11 Calgary Flames finished with 94 points and missed the postseason. So fear not Devils fans, all is not lost if New Jersey closes out a perfect exhibition slate, as the Sharks and Senators have proven that such success is not a death sentence for a regular season. You may all breathe a sigh of relief now.
After tonight, the next time you see the Devils hit the ice will be in their season opener! But of course, they must get through one more preseason game first. What will you be watching for this evening? Who do you think secures the final roster spots available? Who on the Islanders will you be keeping an eye on? Is there anything you’d like to see out of the Devils tonight? As always, thanks for reading!