The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils versus the Carolina Hurricanes. Opposition Blog: Canes Country Carolina leads series 2-0.
The Time: 3:30 PM ET
The Broadcast: TV - TBS, SN1, TVAS
Take a look at John’s series preview for a more thorough look at how the teams matchup.
Luke Hughes and Lineup
Lindy Ruff confirmed at practice yesterday, with Ryan Graves picking up an injury in game 2 and missing the third period, that Luke Hughes will draw into the lineup for his playoff debut today:
Lindy Ruff announces that Luke Hughes will make his Stanley Cup playoff debut tomorrow. Ryan Graves is out with an upper body injury.— Matt Loughlin (@MattLoug) May 6, 2023
This is absolutely fantastic news. I was desperate to see Luke in the linup already for game 1, I truly believe that he is ready to contribute significantly for the Devils. The following is the full lineup from yesterday’s practice:
Line shuffling. Luke working w/ Severson.— x - Sam Kasan (@samikasan) May 6, 2023
The #NJDevils workflow at practice…
Palat – Hischier – Bratt
Haula – Boqvist – Tatar
Meier – JHughes – Mercer
Wood – McLeod – Bastian
Siegenthaler – Hamilton
LHughes – Severson
Bahl – Marino
Smith – (Sharangovich)
Bahl-Marino takes over as the new shut-down pairing, which I agree with, as Bahl and Marino have arguably been the Devils’ two best defencemen, consistency-wise, all playoffs. We then have Luke and Damon Severson as an offensively overcharged line. Ruff has the second change, so he will do his absolute best to give this pairing the greatest opportunity to succeed in the offensive zone possible. Hopefully Luke can create some time and space in the offensive zone using his elite skills and create some looks that the Devils haven’t got so far in the series for himself or his teammates.
Regarding the forwards, of note is that Boqvist draws back into the lineup, in place of Lazar. The BMW line has, surprisingly, been very good in this series, scoring the Devils’ only two goals and only taking one minor penalty between them in the first two games. Up top, Palat moves up with Hischier and Bratt, Meier and Mercer join Jack Hughes. Lindy is clearly loading up the top-six with what he believes to be the Devils’ six best offensive threats. Today would be a very very very welcome time for Meier or Hischier or Bratt to get going properly (also, Jack hasn’t scored since game 4 against the Rangers, five games ago...).
I agree with these adjustments, but they won’t matter if the team comes out as flat, tired, weak, whatever you want to call it, as they played in the first two games. Today is a must-win game, as was game three in the Rangers series. We’ll see whether the boys have got the message this time. Of course, not to discredit the Hurricanes, who are an extremely good team, with or without Svechnikov, Paccioretty, Teravainen. In fact, in the first period of game 2, the Devils were being outplayed, but I didn’t necessarily think that they were playing poorly, it more just looked like that Carrolina were the better team. The point is, the Canes are a heck of a lot better than the Rangers, so it isn’t like the Devils can just flip a switch when they feel like it and then dominate the rest of the series. Getting back to home ice, getting the last change, getting Luke into the lineup, should all help, but there is no guarantee. I just want to see them come out and play their best game, test Freddie Andersen, and see where it goes. This team hates losing, and we’ve seen before what happens after losing the first two games (regular season, round 1). Make it a series, boys.
What do you think of today’s game? I Reckon they will sneak out a win, but it will be close. Carrolina are so solid, not really allowing any chances at all, so the Devils will have to capitalise on those which end up coming their way. Happy to see Luke in? What do you think he can bring to the table? What about the line-shuffling, which I think make sense in principle, although we have to wait to see what chemistry they end up having? Man I really hope they win tonight. Playoff hockey is so much fun. Let me know what you think in the comments, and thank you for reading and supporting the site.