March 1st - Devils Visit Florida

March 1st - Devils Visit Florida

NHL

March 1st - Devils Visit Florida

Pre-Game Thoughts:

The Devils march into Florida on the heals of a 3-2 victory in Pittsburgh and 6-4-0 record over the last 10 games but lets not overlook the Florida Panthers. Sure, they currently sit outside the playoff picture with 64 points, trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets by 5 points for that final Wild Card spot but they’ve been playing some excellent hockey recently. Some might say they’ve been one of the best teams since the All-Star break. Florida has won their last 3 and have an impressive 7-3-0 record over their last 10 but what’s more impressive is that they are doing it against some tough teams. In their last 3 games, they taken out the Washington Capitals, the Pittsburgh Pengiuns and the Toronto Maple Leafs, all solid playoff teams.

Players To Watch:

It looks as if Patrick Maroon will make his NJ Devils debut tonight so it will be interesting to see what he brings to this team. We’ll keep our eyes on Michael Grabner as well as he will be playing his third game in the Devils sweater. He looked much better against Pittsburgh and I would imagine we will see even more improvement tonight. Taylor Hall has scored at least 1 point in the last 22 games (longest point streak in the NHL this season) and has just been doing all the right things so we can’t stop watching him. Jesper Bratt is coming off a game in Pittsburgh where he had just 3 shifts in the 3rd period and a total ice time of under 10 minutes for the game. It also looks as if Cory Schneider will make his return to the lineup tonight.

New Jersey Lines:

Taylor Hall – Nico Hischier – Kyle Palmieri
Mile Wood – Pavel Zacha – Jesper Bratt
Michael Grabner – Travis Zajac – Stefan Noesen
Blake Coleman – Brian Boyle – Patrick Maroon

Andy Greene – Sami Vatanen
John Moore – Damon Severson
Will Butcher – Ben Lovejoy

Cory Schneider

It looks as if inserting Maroon into the lineup will cause Drew Stafford to sit out and watch this one. I was extremely interested as to where Maroon was going to find himself and exactly was going to sit down but I did have my eye on Drew Stafford. It shows the depth of the Devils offense that Maroon is finding himself on the 4th line but I personally think I would swap Noesen and Maroon around. Maybe tomorrow night because I don’t think the Devils brought Maroon here to play 4th liner minutes.

Game Notes:

This is the third meeting between the two teams this season. The Devils won the first and the Panthers struck back to win the second but both of those games were in November and the Panthers were playing like a much different team back then. Since November, the players have really bought into the new Florida coaching system. Robert Luogo, who will be in net tonight is 4-1-0 since returning from injury on February 17th. He has a .926 save percentage during this stretch. Guys that will require some attention from the Devils would be Jonathan Huberdeau (57 points in 60 games) and Vincent Trocheck (who also have 57 points in 60 games).

Socials:
#FlaPanthers #NJDevils #NJDvsFLA

Prediction:

This certainly is a tough game for New Jersey because the Panthers have been on such a hot streak. I certainly hope to see good things from Grabner and Maroon tonight and I do hope that Bratt finds his way out of this slump he’s been in. I’m sure the Panthers, like most teams at this point, are going to put a big focus on Taylor Hall to try and shut him down. I’m excited about the return of Cory Schneider but I also worry about that as well. Was a 1 game stint in Binghamton enough for him? Kinkaid has been playing lights out and will likely get the start tomorrow night but its hard to decide to sit the hot hand for someone that has missed a good portion of games in recent weeks. Florida is hot and the Devils are good but not hot like they have been previously this season. The previous two meetings have been 1 goal games so this one will go down to the wire. I believe it foes to OT and the Devils will need to finish it there but if it goes to the shootout, the game goes to Florida.

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