March 24, 2018
By Tommy Zilinski
DAB PREGAME: DEVILS LOOK TO DIFFUSE LIGHTNING IN POTENTIAL PLAYOFF PREVIEW
Who’s ready for some Saturday night hockey?! The New Jersey Devils will look to build off of their thrilling overtime victory last night in Pittsburgh when they return home from a lengthy six-game road trip to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Prudential Center. The Lightning (51-19-4), who currently sit in first place in the Eastern Conference with 106 points, are 12-2-1 in their last 15 games played and are riding a three-game winning streak into tonight’s contest. New Jersey (38-28-8) is 5-5-0 in their last 10 and has an 18-14-3 record at home. The Bolts have a record of 24-11-2 away from Amalie Arena.
Heading into the game, the Lightning are looking to secure the first seed in the playoff picture, while the Devils will look to maintain their three point hold on the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. If things go the Devils’ way tonight, they could find themselves with a 5-point grasp on the last playoff spot. If things go poorly, Jersey’s team may only have a 1 point advantage over the Florida Panthers, who are playing the Arizona Coyotes tonight. Tonight’s match-up could have extra significance, too. If nothing changes in the standings before the conclusion of the regular season, the Devils would face the Lightning in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There is a very real possibility that this will not be the final time these two teams meet this season, so expect both teams to come out with their best this evening to feel each other out and attempt to exploit weaknesses in the oppositions’ system.
This game promises to a be fast-paced, high-action event with a lot of skill. New Jersey will have to be at their best if they want to walk away with two points.
For New Jersey:
Taylor Hall – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Michael Grabner – Pavel Zacha – Kyle Palmieri
Brian Gibbons – Travis Zajac – Drew Stafford
Pat Maroon – Brian Boyle – Blake Coleman
Andy Greene – Sami Vatanen
John Moore – Damon Severson
Will Butcher – Ben Lovejoy
For the Lightning:
JT Miller – Steven Stamkos – Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Yanni Gourde
Chris Kunitz – Cedric Paquette – Adam Erne
Victory Hedman – Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn – Mikhail Sergachev
Players to Watch
Cory Schneider… The Devils’ netminder has been struggling as of late, not having won a game since December. Schneider will be tested early and often, and he will need to be his old self if he wants to help the Devils steal two points. If New Jersey has any hopes of making noise in the playoffs, Schneider has to get on his game and that needs to happen tonight. No more excuses. If he can’t right the ship tonight, it may be Keith Kinkaid’s net for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.
Nikita Kucherov… This man has been a menace all season long. He’s got 37 goals and 58 assists on the year, good for a whopping 95 points. He’s a danger any time the puck is on his stick and the Devils defenders are going to have their hands full trying to keep Kucherov and Steven Stamkos contained.
It’ll be a very fast-paced game with both teams having the speed and skill to rush the puck up ice and generate quality scoring chances on a whim. New Jersey will be playing desperate and will throw everything they have left in the tank into this game. I predict a 5-4 overtime victory for the Devils.
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:
Taylor Hall + Nico Hischier OVER 1.5 Combined PTS
Sami Vatanen Will Play OVER 22.33 Minutes
Where To Watch:
Tonight’s game starts shortly after 7:00pm and can be seen on MSG+2 and SUN Sports. 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!