Game Preview #1: New Jersey Devils @ Montreal Canadiens

the match: New Jersey Devils Visit Montreal Canadiens. SB Nation Blog: Habs eyes on the award

the time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern time

Broadcasting: TV – for market subscribers, Via the official Devils . app. ESPN + (subscribers outside the market), TSN2, RDS. radio – Devils Hockey Network (Access through NHL.com or SiriusXM app)

For the first time before the season for both teams

Both the Devils and the Canadians will make their preliminary starts this evening. I won’t get into the details of what happened the last time these two teams met (It went badly and as you would expect most of the bad matches from last season will end). It was at the time, but we are at this moment.

Both teams are looking to put the miserable campaigns of 2021-22 behind them and return to respect. After the Stanley Cup Final featured in the Stanley Cup Final during the pandemic’s shortened season in 2020-21, Montreal fell in big way and finished last season by scoring the worst in the league 22-49-11, 55 points. Carey Price spent most of last season in the NHL’s Player Assistance Program, Shea Weber retired due to various injuries, and the Habs dropped to the bottom of the rankings. No team gave up more goals than the Habs last year, and they ended up being selected first in the NHL Draft (Juraj Slafkovsky) as a result.

The Devils weren’t much better, finishing 27-46-9 for 63 points. It was the fifth-worst record in the league, which is unacceptable for a team that talked pre-season about playing meaningful matches later in the season. Fortunately for the Devils, injuries to the guard post and key players partly explain why they ended up where they did. Table tennis balls landed in New Jersey’s way again in the draft lottery and they won the right to second pick in the NHL Draft. As you now know, they chose Slovak defender Simon Nemec.

Will we see Slavkovsky and/or Nemec appear with their teams? There’s a good chance we do.

Tonight’s lineup?

As of this writing, the Devils have yet to announce their game slate for this evening. John pointed out in his guide to pre-season That the CBA requires the Devils to wear 8 veterans for pre-season competition.

As for the Habs, TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie noted that Slafkovsky should be among the players who fit in in Montreal tonight.

Assuming Martin St. Louis doesn’t act shyly and bluff with the local Montreal media, one could assume that Cole Coffield, Mike Hoffman, Kirby Dash, Mike Matheson, and Jake Allen will be among the squad of Canadians who will join Slavkowski and play this evening.

Don’t expect to see newly appointed Habs captain Nick Suzuki because he’s going to miss two weeks with a lower body injury. Josh Anderson suffers an upper body injury daily and Joel Edmondson is out indefinitely, so there’s a reasonable chance they’re both sitting still, too. There’s no point in pushing veterans under 100 percent into pointless contests.

Update #1 – It looks like we have rosters for this evening, so I’ve removed the highly speculative Devils lineup.

What are you looking for?

There are two main things I will look for.

First of all, no injuries. The Devils may have dodged a bullet in Sunday’s brawl with Andreas Johnson to avoid injury after tangling with Nikita Okhotyuk in the corner (on a related note: expect the Devils to stop Johnson tonight). No matter how you feel about any player in the camp competing for somewhere, no one wants to see a string of injuries before the start of the season.

The second thing for me is that I want to see the guys on the list make their case and make life as difficult as possible for Tom Fitzgerald and Lady Ruff…..in a good way, of course. I want to see Simon Nemec prove he doesn’t need AHL seasoning. I want to see Kevin Bahl, Tess Thompson and Nolan Foote show they have nothing to prove at the AHL level. Whether they were able to do that and beat some other young players and veterans for a spot on the roster, but I’m a firm believer given the role and leave no doubt. We saw last season, Dawson Mercer, gave the Devils no choice but to put him on the opener list. With a bit of Alex Holtz we’ve seen in the odds tournament and in-team squabbles, we may be seeing it again this season.

On the contrary? It’s pre-season hockey. The winning and losing record does not matter, although winning is better than losing. There is no reason to panic if Dawson Mercer goes 0 goals in 4 pre-season games or Vitek Vanecek allows 3 goals in the first period. The primary purpose of the pre-season is to get rid of the rust and get ready for the season. Keep this in mind if your favorite veteran player struggles at a small sample size.

last thoughts

What do you think of tonight’s match? What would you look for, and what players would you like to see make an impact and bring their case to create the NHL roster? Feel free to leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

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