April 7, 2018
By Sam Britt
The New Jersey Devils have returned to the playoffs after a six year exile. Tonight’s game will be a nice relaxing bout between two teams who have already clinched. But hear me out, this could get a little testy. The Devils could potentially match up with the Washington Capitals in the first round so this could be a game that sets the tone for the playoffs. We could see a little bit of animosity. Or we could see two teams just trying not to get hurt.
The most important thing to watch is the play of Cory Schneider. It will be interesting to see if the time off has helped him further recover from his injury and regain his confidence. Getting Schneider even back to 80% would really add to the Devils confidence in net going into the playoffs. Knowing that they have a capable netminder to turn to in the event Kinkaid gets hurt or gets pulled would be a nice security blanket for the Devils.
The game does matter a little for the Devils as it determines their seed. If the Columbus Blue Jackets lose in regulation to the Nashville Predators, and the Devils defeat the Capitals in any fashion, New Jersey will hold the third spot in the Metropolitan Division and would face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. If Jersey falls in regulation and the Philadelphia Flyers defeat the New York Rangers, the Devils would sit in the second wildcard spot. Jersey’s team could also stay in the first wildcard spot in a number of scenarios, including Columbus and New Jersey winning or all three of the Devils, Blue Jackets and Flyers losing.
Players to Watch:
Jesper Bratt. He has been struggling for a while now so it would be nice to see him end the season on a high note. He will get a chance alongside Nico Hischier on the top line tonight.
John Carlson. He could be a Devil in a couple months if they want to allocate the funds to sign him. Just a chance to see him in his last regular season game in a Caps uniform most likely.
For New Jersey:
Scratches: Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, Sami Vatanen, Keith Kinkaid, Marcus Johansson, Steve Santini (will take warmups and may play to give another player some rest before the playoffs). NOTE: None of these players are scratched due to injury. Coach John Hynes is electing to rest his top talent and not risk injury.
Scratches: TJ Oshie, Tyler Boyd, Jay Beagle, Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, Brian Pinho
Looking at the two lineups, I feel comfortable saying that the New Jersey Devils will lose this one tonight. How badly they lose will depend on the goaltending of Cory Schneider and the offensive production of the guys that are playing. There’s a good chance it could be a blowout, or we could get surprised and see a close game. Ultimately, the Devils still have a lot to play for tonight to determine their playoff seed and give the Caps a taste of what they could be facing in Round 1. I predict a 5-2 Washington Capitals victory.
I’m playing this game on www.statementgames.com to compete for prizes in the newest style of fantasy sports. My two lock statements are:
Washington Capitals WILL WIN by OVER 0.5 Goals
Washington Capitals Faceoff % OVER 50.0%
Where To Watch:
Tonight’s game starts shortly after 7:00pm and can be seen on NHL Network, NBCSWA, and MSG+. We also invite you to follow us on social media as we provide live play-by-play and rapid reaction to tonight’s battle. As always, make sure to submit your #DABFirstGoal guess when you see the post for a chance to win a prize at the end of the month!