The New Jersey Devils (13-15-7) take on the Washington Capitals (20-9-4) Thursday night at 7PM at the Verizon Center in a home-and-home series. Keith Kinkaid (3-3-2) will get the start in net for the Devils and Braden Holtby (15-8-3) is expected in net for the Capitals. Kinkaid’s last start came against the Ottawa Senators on December 17th, a 3-1 regulation loss for the Devils. Both teams are coming off a loss: New Jersey lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, 5-2, and Washington fell to the New York Islanders 4-3. This is the first meeting of the season between both teams and they will play a total of four games in the next couple of months.
Coming into tonight’s game, Adam Henrique, Michael Cammalleri, and P.A. Parenteau are tied as the team’s goal-scoring leaders, with nine goals apiece. Henrique and Kyle Palmieri both have two goals and an assist in their last three games.
Taylor Hall, who has three assists in the same span and is now on a nine-game goal-scoring drought, will miss tonight’s game with an undisclosed lower body injury and is day-to-day. His injury is unrelated to his knee surgery earlier this season. Vern Fiddler is also out with a lower body injury and will miss approximately 3-4 weeks. Luke Gazdic was recalled from Albany (AHL) yesterday but no lineup announcements or other roster moves have been made yet.
In other news, the Devils’ dads are in town for their annual fathers’ trip so hopefully, the Devils can get them a win (or maybe two). The Devils went 2-0 against Carolina on their first Dads’ Trip last season. Randy Wood, Miles Wood’s father and former NHLer, told Julie Robenhymer during Devils All-Access that Miles once sent Alex Ovechkin an SASE to sign and if he (Alex) didn’t, Miles would check him the first time he saw him once he made it to the NHL. Well, Alex never returned the signed card and tonight is their first meeting.
And if you aren’t paying attention to the World Juniors, you probably should be. Devils’ prospects in the WJC include Mikey McLeod (CAN), Blake Speers (CAN), Joey Anderson (USA), and Igor Rykov (RUS). Rykov is having an exceptional tournament, and Team USA faces off against Team Russia today at 3:30PM EST; both teams are 2-0. Team Canada takes on Team Latvia at 7:30PM EST.
Tonight’s starting lineup:
My thoughts: I have many of them. I would not look too much into those practice lines mainly because Josefson is still on IR and nothing has been set in stone. I would think Coach Hynes would continue to mix around lines, especially with Hallsy and Fiddler out. As a side note, I am definitely not on the “Fire Hynes” campaign. Keep in mind that the Devils are only in their second rebuilding year. Rebuilding takes time and I know that it isn’t an excuse for having only four wins in December but they are going to struggle and so are we. It’s to be expected. It might also be time to call up some of the younger guys, namely Santini, Blandisi, and Pietila, and I would be all for bringing Helgeson back up. I’d also love to see Keith Kinkaid get more starts in net. Additionally, I might have to drive up to the Prudential Center and bring Patrik Elias back myself.
The Devils desperately need to fix their power play; they had seven power play opportunities Tuesday night, including a double minor in the third period, and only scored on one of them. They also need to play a full 60 minutes and take more shots on goal. You can’t win games unless you score goals and you can’t score goals unless you take shots on net but at this point in the season, I feel like I just keep repeating myself.