The New Jersey Devils (14-6-4) embark on a three-game road trip tonight and first face the Colorado Avalanche (12-9-2) in their final meeting of the season. The Devils hosted the Avs in their home (and season) opener at the Rock back on October 7 and won 4-1. There’s a recap for that game here.
The Devils are 37-38-8-4 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Avs. They are 2-7-1-2 at the Pepsi Center. The two teams split games last season. Both teams have been pleasant surprises this season, partially due to the play of their younger players.
Colorado is in the midst of a five-game home stand. They played the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday, a 3-2 overtime win courtesy of Nathan MacKinnon, and the Calgary Flames on Saturday, a 3-2 loss. Overall, they are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. They are also 8-2-1 on home ice and have won four of their last six games at the Pepsi Center.
As mentioned before, New Jersey is on a three-game road trip; they play the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. They last played on Monday, a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on home ice. They defeated the Vancouver Canucks, 3-2, on Friday and the Detroit Red Wings, 4-3, on Saturday. They are 5-2-3 in their last 10 games overall and are 8-2-2 on the road this season.
Tonight’s goaltender matchup will likely feature Semyon Varlamov (8-4-1, 3.13 GAA, .906 save percentage) and Cory Schneider (9-5-3, 2.78 GAA, .918 save percentage).
Sami Vatanen will make his Devils’ debut tonight. He flew in and met the team in Colorado after being traded yesterday. This will be the Devils’ first game without Adam Henrique in the lineup since the 2015-16 season; he played all 82 games last season. Their lines look a little different.
Additionally, Marcus Johansson could return to the lineup tonight after missing last month with a concussion. Gabriel Landeskog was suspended four games for boarding Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk and will miss tonight’s game.
Projected Avalanche Lines:
Projected Devils Lines:
Nathan MacKinnon is Colorado’s leading scorer with 28 points (8G, 20A) and also leads in assists. He has three game-winning goals, two of them overtime winners. Mikko Rantanen has 20 points. Gabriel Landeskog leads in goals scored with nine, while MacKinnon and Kerfoot have eight. Nikita Zadorov has scored in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
Taylor Hall is New Jersey’s leading scorer with 26 points. Rookies Nico Hischier and Will Butcher both have 18. Hall leads in assists with 18. Brian Gibbons leads in goals scored with 11. Hall is playing Hart-caliber hockey and has seven points in his last six games.
The Avalanche have scored a power play goal in nine of 11 home games and their power play is ranked 16th in the league at 19.8% successful. The Devils are 7th at 23.0% successful. New Jersey’s penalty kill is 14th at 80.9% efficient while Colorado’s is 25th at 77.3%.
Will Butcher was selected 123rd overall by Colorado back in 2013 but opted to sign with the Devils as a free agent this past summer. Butcher played four years of college hockey at the University of Denver. Alexander Kerfoot, selected 150th overall in 2012 by the Devils, signed with Colorado this summer. The Devils are averaging a shot more per game but are also allowing more. Colorado’s faceoff win percentage is dead last in the NHL and the Devils should take advantage.
And keep an eye out for the rookies tonight! Colorado’s Jost-Kerfoot-Compher has been electric. They all played NCAA hockey for the University of North Dakota, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan, respectively. They’ve combined for 26 points.
And don’t forget about New Jersey’s rookies either. Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher, and Blake Coleman have all played incredibly well this season (although they’re still going through some growing pains).
The Avs have (kind of) gone under the radar this season. They’ve played well and shouldn’t be taken lightly by any team in the league. I’d say that both teams are fairly similar. They’re both undergoing rebuilds. They’re trying to play a similar style of hockey. They’ve injected more youth and speed into lineups. Both teams should be on their toes (skates?) tonight.
It’s a late one. 9PM puck drop. Be sure to tune in for Vatanen’s Devils debut and an exciting game.