The Time: 10:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - TNT
No Close Games for Colorado
Like the New Jersey Devils, the Colorado Avalanche have gotten off to a bit of a bumpy start this season, despite their record. They are 2-3-0 in their last five games, during which time the closest games were their victories, as they beat the Islanders 7-4 and the Blues 4-1. They lost to Pittsburgh and Buffalo in 4-0 shutouts, and lost to Vegas in a whopping 7-0 shutout against on Saturday. So far, Colorado has only played one game decided by a single “goal” with their 2-1 shootout win over the Sharks back on October 14.
At least some of this stems from “unlucky” on-ice results. Alexandar Georgiev has not been as good as he was last year, putting the offense in a tough spot despite their general dominance of possession over other teams. With Nathan MacKinnon on the ice, the Avalanche have a staggeringly bad .844 save percentage at five-on-five. Now, this may not be the night that trend continues, as both Nico HIschier and Jack Hughes are out for the Devils. But Colorado is beatable, if only, at times, because of Georgiev’s inconsistency.
Tomas Tatar and Miles Wood should be lining up against the Devils tonight. So far, Tatar has 0 goals and four assists through nine games, while Wood has a goal and an assist through 10 games. I would not make too much out of Tomas Tatar sitting a game, as Andrew Cogliano and Jonathan Drouin have also sat a game each. Two of those times was to run Kurtis MacDermid as a seventh defenseman (he played a whopping nine minutes across those games), with one game going to 25-year old left wing Riley Tufte.
I had thought that Tatar and Wood would be great fits for the kind of game that Colorado plays. However, the offense has not been there as strongly for the Avalanche so far this year, as they have scored just over three goals a game (this is low for them) and have already been shut out three times. If the Devils were coming off a 7-0 shutout loss last season, Miles Wood would have been a candidate to band the team together in a meeting. With guys like Wood and a team of champions, I would expect the Colorado Avalanche to come out firing tonight. Assuming that Vitek Vanecek gets the nod again, he will have to be sharp in the first period.
Devils in Practice
In keeping with the line trends during the games, there was a bit of a shakeup in the practice lines yesterday.
Looks like Toffoli and Palat flipping.— Sam Kasan (@samikasan) November 6, 2023
The #NJDevils workflow from practice...
Toffoli – McLeod – Bratt
Palat – Mercer – Meier
Willman – Haula - Lazar
Holtz – Tierney – Bastian
Siegenthaler – Hamilton
Bahl – Marino
Smith – Hughes
(Foote rotated into various spots)
I would like to see Alex Holtz get more run in the top six, but it will be hard to argue with these lines until they actually run into trouble. Max Willman scored a breakaway goal on Sunday, and Curtis Lazar has been excellent over the past few games. Chris Tierney is not a bad fourth line center, though — he set Bastian up for a netside chance on Sunday that almost certainly would have been a goal if it were Holtz in Bastian’ spot (the puck bounced off Bastian’s stick as he tried to one-touch it in). My only candidate to move down in the lineup is Ondrej Palat, but I think that Mercer and Meier are good enough stylistic fits for him that he might look better tonight than he had the last few games with McLeod and Bratt.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Do you think the Devils will be competitive? Or will Colorado be too difficult to beat without our top centers? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading.