The Devils open week five of the season against the best team in hockey.
The New Jersey Devils, who have had to deal with their fair share of injuries to begin the season, were greeted with some more tough news on Monday. Winger Miles Wood, who has yet to make his season debut, will undergo surgery and is out indefinitely.
This is a big blow to the Devils’ offense. New Jersey has held its own and done well in the young season, but there’s no denying that Wood’s absence has been glaring.
The Devils will face another tough task without him (and, of course, star center Jack Hughes): taking on the best team in the NHL, the Florida Panthers, on Tuesday.
The forward group might look a little different, something that could come as a refreshing change ahead of this challenging game.
Marián Studenič and Frédérik Gauthier were sent to the AHL and Jesper Boqvist and Tyce Thompson, who have been great in Utica, were promoted. Both have been hot and could reinvigorate an offense that really needs to score on Tuesday.
As for the defense, the Devils will need Ty Smith and P.K. Subban to be better.
Smith’s sophomore season has gotten off to a rough start. He missed the first few games with an injury and hasn’t looked like the defenseman we saw last season. He’s been sloppy with the puck and makes too many mistakes.
As for Subban, it looks like his age might be catching up to him. He’s been pretty dreadful in all situations and, the cherry on top, gets sent to the box far too often.
Star defenseman Dougie Hamilton has missed the Devils’ last two games with an injury, but will be participating in warmups before the game, when a decision will be made about his status.
The Devils need all hands on deck, especially their best player. His return couldn’t come at a better time.
The Devils might be the luckiest of Florida’s opponents, thus far. They’re catching the Panthers in game two of a back-to-back. The first of these games served as Florida’s first regulation loss of the season.
The New York Rangers, who defeated the Panthers 4-3 on Monday, did many things correctly against the best team in the league, the most important and notable of which was their discipline.
The Rangers, who have a good penalty kill, can be sloppy at times and take unnecessary penalties. Last night, they were sent to the box just twice.
The Panthers are dangerous everywhere, but it’s foolish to believe that they won’t win games if they’re given many power play opportunities. The Devils must take a page out of their rivals’, the Rangers, book.
Any team wants to be as disciplined as possible against the best team and one of the best power plays in the league. That’s even more so the case for the Devils, who have the worst penalty kill in hockey for the second-straight season.
Staying out of the box and scoring early are probably the Devils’ keys to the game.
Panthers players to watch:
C Sam Reinhart
This season: 12 GP, 3 G, 10 PTS
C Aleksander Barkov
This season: 11 GP, 7 G (2 PP), 13 PTS
Career vs. NJD: 17 GP, 7 G (1 PP), 14 PTS
C Anton Lundell
This season: 8 GP, 3 G, 6 PTS
RW Anthony Duclair
This season: 12 GP, 8 G (1 PP), 12 PTS
C Carter Verhaeghe
This season: 12 GP, 3 G, 9 PTS
LW Jonathan Huberdeau
This season: 12 GP, 3 G (1 PP, 1 SH), 12 PTS
RHD Brandon Montour
Career vs. NJD: 14 GP, 3 G (1 PP), 10 PTS
RHD Aaron Ekblad
This season: 12 GP, 4 G (1 PP), 10 PTS
LHD Gustav Forsling
This season: 12 GP, 9 A
Devils players to watch:
C Nico Hischier
Career vs. FLA: 7 GP, 1 G, 5 PTS
C Pavel Zacha
Career vs. FLA: 10 GP, 3 G, 8 PTS
LW Tomáš Tatar
Career vs. FLA: 27 GP, 11 G (4 PP), 21 PTS