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Playoff Game Preview #12: New Jersey Devils at Carolina Hurricanes

In a 3-1 hole, the Devils have to win out to progress to the conference finals. That process starts tonight. Learn more about potentially the Devils’ last game of the season in this game preview.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils
Disorder at the back
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (1-3) versus the Carolina Hurricanes (3-1). Opposition Blog: Canes Country

The Time: 7:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV - TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS

Series Preview: If you want an in-depth preview of the series, you can find it here

Find-a-Way Time

The Devils did not hold a practice yesterday, instead travelling to Raleigh where game five will be played. There was an optional skate, where the following participated:

Similarly, no morning skate today:

So we will just have to wait until warmups pre-game to find out who will be playing, and in what combinations. I understand the desire to keep the boys as rested as possible. However, given how disorganised they have looked, perhaps doing some work on that would be preferable? Of course, not much can be done in one practice, I guess, so just let them come out with as much energy as possible and try to replicate game 3.

I was surprised to see Tatar participate in the optional yesterday. Not necessarily because I think he doesn’t need it — he certainly does, not playing up to his abilities at all — but he isn’t the only one, with several other guys being in similar positions. Not sure what that says about the attitude of these other guys, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a great look.

I honestly don’t know what to do with the lineup as what worked so well in game 3 (at least on the scoreboard) completely fell apart in that second period of game 4, despite a very promising first ten minutes or so of the game. Graves seems to be ok, I guess he will be in, given that if not he probably won’t play again this season, so might as well give it a go. Will Lazar, Boqvist or Sharangovich draw in? Perhaps one of the Utica guys? Foote? Nemec? Honestly, no clue what Lindy ends up doing. A very very big call for him. He is out of a contract after the season and not knowing what the front office thinks of his performance across the year (postseason less favourably than the regular season) I can only imagine that they will still be undecided over whether to extend him.

The biggest call of all, of course, is in net. As Jared wrote yesterday, the Devils, again, need to seriously address the goaltending position in the summer. And that is due to Vanecek being perhaps the worst goaltender in the entire playoffs this year: of goalies to play at least three games, his -1.679 goals saved above expected PER GAME is more than three times as bad as Hellebuyck in second last! And Schmid, who we all thought was the next goalie of the franchise after his solid play against the Rangers, has fallen back to earth (admittedly with questionable team play in front of him). I expect to see Schmid in net tonight because, well, you can’t possible go with Vanecek, right? RIGHT? If Blackwood gets the nod, which won’t happen, but if he does, I would have some pretty serious questions.

This could be the last game of the season for this team, this great team. It won’t be the last time we get to follow them on a long playoff run, but we are still desperate for them to win tonight, regardless. I hope that the team can show that same desire. After their collapse against Carolina in game 4, I am beginning to doubt it. But we’ll see. Hopefully they can take it back to the Rock for one more game, at the very least, and then we go from there.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of tonight’s game? Will they well or disappoint as they did in game 4? Will they win or is this it for the season? Let me know what you think in the comments, and thank you for reading.