The Time: 7:30 PM ET
The Broadcast: MSGSN
Who Should Benefit the Most from Rest?
I chose Miles Wood as the picture for today's recap - not only because the photo is objectively cool, but because I expect him to have a bounceback second half after the grind of the season seemed to set in at some point in December. With 17 points in 48 games, Miles Wood is struggling to earn another contract extension — and certainly not at the cap hit he is currently earmarked. Fortunately, he scored in the last game before the break — as I take that goal as hope for the second half of the season. For comparison, before his hip injury: Miles Wood has 17 goals in 55 games, which is over double his current total of eight through 48 games.
Jumping right back into the season with the same lines as the #NJDevils last game.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) February 5, 2023
On defense, John Marino jumps back in. He’s paired with Brendan Smith but please understand he’s been gone for a long time and will need to work into his big minutes. pic.twitter.com/YPM46i9LQH
With John Marino back, this should be the freshest and strongest lineup the team has had since the first couple of weeks of the season. While some may malign Lindy Ruff for keeping him on the third pair in his return, I would not mind this as Brendan Smith had a rather tumultuous last few weeks with his partners being either Nikita Okhotiuk or Kevin Bahl. I look forward to the defensive pairings being much more reliable in the coming weeks and months.
Injured players aside, I think the break will do wonders for Nico Hischier. He seemed to be fighting through fatigue or wear and tear over the last couple weeks of January, and getting him back to top form would make the Devils an even scarier team with Jack Hughes being on his torrential pace. On the goaltending side, Vitek Vanecek probably welcomed the break, considering his higher-than-usual workload, relative to the rest of his career. I am looking for big games from those two tonight.
Beauvillier, Not Bo
Lou Lamoriello is a New Jersey Devils legend, and he's already seen the New York Islanders go to two Eastern Conference Finals. Whether or not you believe he did anything to make that happen, or if you believe the team deserved to get that far - I cannot blame the guy for going all out in search of a winning team. His decision to trade for the former captain of the Vancouver Canucks, Bo Horvat, has allowed Vancouver's management to retool for the future at the expense of some watchability now. While Anthony Beauvillier, the current NHL-level return for the Canucks, is by no means a bad player - he is hardly a replacement for Horvat. Aatu Raty should be a very solid top six forward in the future for the Canucks, but he is currently playing for their AHL affiliate. I do not expect him to get much NHL playing time at the moment.
Canuck lines at practice Sunday evening in Newark. Where I am, watching the Canucks practise.— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) February 5, 2023
It is difficult to guess how well Beauvillier will perform alongside Elias Pettersson. Pettersson is an elite center, and Andrei Kuzmenko has been outstanding this season. However, Beauvillier stands at fewer than half a point per game with 9 goals and 11 assists in 49 games. In reality, Miles Wood has similar production this season to Beauvillier, but in fewer minutes. Should Beauvillier be better? Absolutely. Can the Canucks unlock that? We will see, starting tonight.
Andrew Brunette, as you may have heard, was arrested for driving under the influence in Broward County, Florida last week. This was troubling news for any Devils fan, as drunk driving can (obviously) lead to some rather dangerous outcomes for anyone involved. However, following an update that Andrew Brunette was driving a golf cart away from a local bar, the reaction seemed to cool down pretty quickly. For what it’s worth, the team is keeping its treatment of the situation internal for now.
Andrew Brunette is on the ice with #NJDevils.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) February 5, 2023
I've been told that he spoke this morning with the team about his situation before practice, but there’s no further comment as the legal process is ongoing.
The Devils’ forwards group has performed well under Andrew Brunette and Lindy Ruff this season, and I am personally glad that this situation did not turn out to be much more than it was. It seems they may be using this moment as a lesson for the young players on the roster.
My Final Thoughts
This will be the first game I attend in person this year — I am looking forward to it! I hope to see a sea of red and black tonight, as Jack Hughes puts up another victory over his older brother. It’s always a world of difference to my eyes, seeing the game in person rather than from a camera’s point of view.
What do you think of tonight’s game? How do you think Vancouver stands after that trade? Who will be traded next? Will Brock Boeser move before the deadline? Do you think Boeser is an option for the Devils? Which Devil are you watching most closely tonight? Who do you think will benefit most from the All-Star Break? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.