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Game Preview #9: New Jersey Devils at Minnesota Wild

In a rare East-West home-and-home, the Devils are in Minnesota tonight. Who exactly will be there, though?

NHL: OCT 29 Wild at Devils

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (5-2-1) at the Minnesota Wild (3-4-2).

The Time: 8:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSGSN-2

Devils Likely to Make a Call-Up Today

With Tomas Nosek and Colin Miller on injured reserve, and the Devils were hoping that Nico Hischier would be ready to make the road trip today after having some days off to heal from the high hits he took from the Buffalo Sabres. The Devils had called up Justin Dowling, a 33-year old center with 98 games of NHL experience as a long-time AHL veteran, to give the team another option on Sunday, when they took the Wild on in Newark — but they sent Dowling down after the game, in which he did not play. That leaves Cal Foote as the current sole healthy scratch on the team.

While Tom Fitzgerald and Lindy Ruff are not optimistic about Nico Hischier making the road trip, Sam Kasan reported that Fitzgerald did not entirely rule Hischier out, saying they were still having conversations on the matter. I do not know whether that means that he might get healthy during the road trip, but is not healthy enough to travel now (which is a possibility, specifically, with concussions), or if it means that he has a different sort of upper-body injury that they are wary of testing in-game for another week or so.

As for who we might see called up for the road trip (and we will only see one call-up, assuming Nico’s injury is such that he won’t be placed on IR), the top forwards in scoring for the Utica Comets are Xavier Parent (4 goals, 4 assists), Max Willman (3 goals, 3 assists), Chase Stillman (3 goals, 2 assists), and Graeme Clarke (3 goals, 1 assist). Each has played six games, though Xavier Parent is on an AHL contract and would need to be signed by the Devils if they wanted to call him up. I do think they should call up a player who they might actually have use for down the line. And since this is a four-game stretch, I would expect the call-up to play a game or two.

A Man Back for the Wild

Matt Boldy, who came on the scene with a flair in the 2021-22 season, had only played two games this season before sustaining a week-to-week upper-body injury in mid-October. Between him, Frederick Gaudreau, Jared Spurgeon, and Alex Goligoski, Boldy is the first regular to return from injury. While the Wild have not had trouble scoring goals, Matt Boldy will make their top six vastly better than it was on Sunday.

Looking at the practice lines for the Wild (below), I feel like they actually underperformed to their ability on Sunday: the Devils need to be very careful. I’m sure not many people expected Pat Maroon to have seven points through the first nine games, but they cannot be letting him walk all over them by the blue paint again tonight: not with another high-scoring winger being added to the mix.

The First Road Trip and Your Thoughts

The Devils were awesome on the road last year, putting up a 28-9-4 record in the regular season, including a whopping 14 comeback road victories. Perhaps, given the way the Devils’ season started, they would like to avoid the comeback sort of victory tonight. I do not think this is a particularly tough road trip: the Devils are certainly being eased into the NHL schedule this season. Nonetheless, teams always want to come home having gone .500 or better on their trips, and the Devils can remind the league how good they can be on the road with a good trip this week.

A key to that would be a continuation of Jack Hughes’ October performance. While Jack was relatively shut down when the Wild came to New Jersey, I do not expect this to happen twice: I think we will see another multi-point night from him. I also think that this will be the stretch of games that Luke Hughes starts to produce at even strength, as he has looked more comfortable as he has gotten more and more minutes this season.

What do you think of tonight’s game? Are you excited to see the Devils go on the road? How do you usually feel watching road games compared to home games? Do you think the Devils will look like a different team on the road yet again this season? Who should get the start in goal tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading.