DAB Pregame: Devils Square Off Against Defending Western Conference Champs

December 14, 2018 - Devils Army Blog - View Full Article

The New Jersey Devils return home from California for a Friday night matchup versus the Vegas Golden Knights. If you would have told me a few years ago that Las Vegas would have a professional, NHL team, I would have said you were crazy. If you would have told me they would make the Stanley Cup final in their first season of existence, I would have told you to keep dreaming.

When it came to Las Vegas hockey, I was wrong, wrong about EVERYTHING. Then again, I wasnít the only one, as the consensus across the board was that they would be a bottom-feeding team playing in an arena with only slightly more seats filled than the Arizona Coyotes. People in Vegas didnít care about hockey, right? They care more about Cirque Du Soleil and blackjack, RIGHT?!?!

Wrong. Like a magic trick done by Siegfried and Roy with their white tigers, the Golden Knights were blessed with crowds of fans and early success. They surprised the entire Western Conference all season into the playoffs, while the Devils were making smaller advancements in their own conference by making the playoffs themselves. Now for the first time since March 2018, two of the biggest surprises from last season face off once again.

Players to Watch

Kyle Palmieri: The Devils have been stuck with an offensive weapon in Palmieri that goes through highs and lows and hot and cold. He either scores multiple goals in a night or canít seem to find the scoresheet. After two separate two-goal games on the California road trip, minus a goalless performance in San Jose, has Palmieri found his scoring touch to stay? Or will he fall victim to his own inconsistency once again.

Photo via Getty Images

William Karlsson: What a difference a year makes. In just one season, the Karlsson not named Erik went from being a six career goal scorer to a 40-plus goal scorer with a move to the NHLís newest franchise. This season he shared the Vegas lead in points but is one goal behind Jonathan Marchessault for the team lead.

Marc-Andre Fleury: Okay, stop me if youíve heard this one. A legendary goalie and previous three-time Stanley Cup champion begins to show his age. People start to cry that heís on his way out until he puts together a stellar senior season that leads his team all the way through the playoffs up to the Stanley Cup final. All of a sudden the people who were ready to make his bed in the retirement home are saying ďhey maybe the old guy’s got some good hockey left in himĒ.

Thatís the exact scenario that played out for both Marty Brodeur in 2012 and Fleury in 2018. Fleury has been able to stay true to form, with not stellar but still pretty good goaltending. Considering fellow Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban hasnít seen a win yet this season, itís safe to assume Fleury will be in net tonight.

Keys to Success

Minimize Mistakes: The Golden Knights barely walked away with a win in their last game, which was a 3-2 victory over the Islanders. The game-winning goal came off a sadly misplayed puck in front of the Islanders net that the Golden Knights found a way to capitalize on. The Devils have been making a lot of mistakes, and there should be no excuse for any of them. If the Devils hit the ice with minimal effort and concentration, the Golden Knights will be able to dance all around them.

Limit Shots: Vegas ranks third in the NHL in shots for this season. The Devils rank 10th in shots against, one of the bright spots on a team with defensive struggles. Vegas does not need a lot of shots, they just need the right ones to find the back of the net. Their last win only saw the Islanders goalie face 17 shots.

Cory Schneider will make his first home start of the 2018-19 season tonight. (Photo via Getty Images)

Rest and Energy: The Devils havenít played since Monday when they closed out the California road trip with a 5-2 loss to the Sharks. Theyíve had plenty of time since then to rest on the East coast, as opposed to the Golden Knights who are on their own opposite time zone swing.

Team Lineups

New Jersey Devils

Hall-Hischier-Palmieri
Johansson-Zacha-Bratt
Wood-Zajac-Coleman
Boyle-Seney-Noesen

Greene-Severson
Butcher-Vatanen
Mueller-Lovejoy

Schneider

Vegas Golden Knights

Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Pacioretty-Eakin-Tuch
Lindbergh-Nosek-Carpenter
Carrier-Bellemare-Reaves

McNabb-Schmidt
Theodore-Engelland
Holden-Miller

Fleury/Subban

Where To Watch:
7:00 MSG+

Statement Games Statement Picks

Weíre playing tonightís game on www.statementgames.com, the newest form of fantasy sports, and we think you should give it a try! Hereís a couple of lock statements to get you startedÖ

Tonightís Goals Under 6.5

VGK Will NOT Win By Over 1.5 Goals

William Karlsson-Reilly Smith-Johnathan Marchessault Over 0.5 Goals

Predictions

Trying to be positive here, and with the Knights on an East Code road trip a 4-2 Devils win might be possible and optimistic.

The post DAB Pregame: Devils Square Off Against Defending Western Conference Champs appeared first on Devils Army Blog.




The Devils We Lost This Offseason: Where Are They Now?

December 13, 2018 - Devils Army Blog - View Full Article

A lot has changed from last season for the New Jersey Devils. In 2017-18, they found themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference for most of the season. That resulted in the teamís first playoff appearance in six years. Fast forward a calendar year and the team has sunk from its heights a short 12 months ago.

Some things have changed for the Devils, like their moral, expectations, and place in the standings. What hasnít changed much is their actual roster. Surprisingly, there was very little change over the summer. In fact, there was so little change, that general manager Ray Shero was often criticized for his lack of free agency signings. While there may not have been many (if any) additions, there were a few departures. Now that weíre firmly planted in the 2018-19 season, letís take a look at the Devils we lost and where they are now.

Disclaimer: These are players lost during the OFFSEASON, and not lost due to a midseason trade. So if you were expecting a nostalgic Adam Henrique montage, Iím sorry.

John Moore

Moore had been a staple on the Devils blue line for the past few seasons but left the iron gridlock of Newark, New Jersey behind for Boston Harbor this off-season when he signed with the Bruins. Although he was an average defenseman at best during his time in New Jersey, fans still hoped Shero would at least entertain Moore an offer because he was among the Devils top defensemen due to their weakness at the position. This season has seen Moore find the scoresheet five times with one goal and four assists so far with the Bruins. Compared this to his last season with the Devils, where he played a full season with seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points. The Bruins themselves are in a pretty good, with a record of 17-10-4 for 38 points and fourth in the Atlantic.

If for anything else, the Devils miss him for his overtime heroics. Mooreís most memorable moments in a Devils contest came with his game-winning goals in overtime. Since he left, the Devils are 0-6 in games theyíve played passed 60 minutes.

Brian Gibbons

One of the biggest surprises for the Devils last year was the emergence of Brian Gibbons. When the career AHLer was named to the opening day roster, fans were confused. But then he emerged as the teams leading goal scorer for a short time and was credited with scoring the Devils first 3-on-5 shorthanded goal in team history. A broken thumb sidelined him and he never regained his early scoring touch, but his one season with the big club was by far the most successful season of his career.

In the offseason, Gibbons hit free agency and left the Devils for the Anaheim Ducks. It was also the first one-way contract of his entire career. Gibbons couldnít find his scoring touch with the Ducks, scoring only 2 assists. The Ducks are in a successful position, though, with a 16-11-5 record for 37 points, which has them in third in the Pacific Division.

Michael Grabner

If there was one player that Devils fans werenít upset about parting ways with, it was Michael Grabner. Grabner holds a weird place in Devils history, being the result of the first ever trade made directly between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers, who had entered a rebuilding phase shortly before the trade. Grabner was well on his way to being a 30 goal scorer with the Rangers, with 25 goals at the time of the acquisition. After his move across the Hudson River, he only scored two goals with three assists and found himself benched, even during the playoffs. Devils fans considered the trade (a second-round pick for Grabner) a bust, while Rangers fans were thrilled.

In a surprising, but not shocking move, Grabner signed with the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason on a five-year deal. Some assumed a Rangers reunion was in the works with, but he instead chose a rarely full desert arena and spot on a perennial bottom of the barrel NHL team over the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. Grabner has a decent six goals and five assists for 11 points. The Coyotes are getting back to NHL relevancy with a record of 13-14-2 and 28 points and sit in seventh in the Pacific Division.

Pat Maroon

If there was one player that Devils fans would have begged Ray Shero to hold onto, it was Patrick Maroon. Acquired at the trade deadline from the Edmonton Oilers, he immediately gelled with the team. He had a scoring touch and a physical sense of play that pushed the team into the playoffs. In just 21 games he became a fan favorite. The fact that he scored three goals and 10 assists for 13 points helped as well. If nothing else, Maroonís production made up for the lack of expected production from the other trade deadline acquisition in Michael Grabner.

Although the Devils made it clear they wanted to carry a reunion into the new season, Maroon left the Devils and went to the St. Louis Blues. Maroon is from St. Louis, and has a son who lives there, so itís a move even Devils fans who grew to love him could understand. This season he has one goal and seven assists for eight points. Meanwhile, the Blues are struggling with a record of 11-14-4 for 26 points. That puts them in sixth in the Central Division, just ahead of the lowly Chicago Blackhawks.

The post The Devils We Lost This Offseason: Where Are They Now? appeared first on Devils Army Blog.