New Jersey Devils day preview: Ottawa Senators

The New Jersey Devils will look to put together a winning streak during this week’s three-game homestand. They have their first chance to end a three-game losing streak on Monday as they host the Ottawa Senators. The game was originally scheduled for Nov. 16, 2021, but was postponed after the Senators placed 10 players on the NHL’s COVID protocol roster.

The two teams last met on Jan. 27, 2020, at the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa, when the Devils won in a shootout – MacKenzie Blackwood made two saves, and Nikita Gusev and Jack Hughes scored to secure the victory. The victory also ended a three-game losing streak. Maybe history will repeat itself. Here’s a look at the intrigues ahead of tonight’s game.

2 scenarios: Ottawa Senators (6-15-1)

The Senators’ two-game winning streak

Unlike the Devils, things were going well for the Senators in early December. They lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 1, but picked up victories in their next two games against the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche. Drake Batherson has six points in his last five games and leads the team with 18 points.

Prior to those last two games, Ottawa had lost six in a row as the team battled Covid and put goaltender Matt Murray on waiver before posting him to the Belleville Senators in the American Hockey League. The team also had an extended team reunion before facing the Hurricanes in an attempt to turn the season around.

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“We have just seen who our team is, what our identity is and how we want to be known”, said Captain Brady Tkachuk. “This meeting was a little longer than most meetings, no video, we just talked about ourselves and I think it was important to get back to basics and get back to what we want to be known and to what our identity should be. ”

Tkachuk on a tear

In early November, the Senators named Tkachuk the 10th team captain in franchise history. He led by example with the game-winning goal against the Avalanche, and he’s on a three-game streak with the point. He roamed the rink, embracing his new title.

Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators (Amy irvin / The writers of hockey)

“Full direction” head coach DJ Smith said of Tkachuk. “We know he’s physical and emotional and can make plays, but his play away from the puck has been a lot better.

2 storylines: the New Jersey Devils (9-9-4)

The devils change lines

Head coach Lindy Ruff told media yesterday he would break the line Andreas Johnsson, Dawson Mercer and Jesper Bratt. The line has been the team’s most successful line, but Ruff wants to throw three or four lines in each game instead of depending on just one.

Lindy Ruff Devils from New Jersey
Lindy Ruff, New Jersey Devils (Kristy Flannery / The Hockey Writers)

“I think if you watch him put Jesper [Bratt] back with Nico [Hischier] this line was really good ”, Ruff said. “You know Jacques [Hughes] gave us a purpose. I think the strength of our team will be to score on two or three lines if we get that scoring depth. I know it hurts to break up, but Jack comes back into the lineup. Bringing him back to the center means we have Mercer, Jack, and Nico now. If your first six get most of the ice time, you need to break that alignment. “

Devil’s lines at yesterday’s training:

Zacha – Hischier – Bratt

Johnsson – Hughes – Sharangovich

Tatar – Mercer – Vesey

Kuokkanen – McLeod – Bastian / Boqvist

Graves – Hamilton

Siegenthaler – Severson

Subban – Smith

Geertsen – Jaros

New Jersey finally scored on the power play

One good thing that came out of the Devils 8-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday was the power play. Half-time in the first period, Damon Severson scored the team’s first power-play goal in 19 attempts. He was part of the second power play unit which included Severson, Ty Smith, Mercer, Johnsson, and Tomas Tatar. They are still waiting for their higher unit to produce, but it has seemed good recently.

Players to watch

New Jersey Devils: Dawson Mercer

Whether Mercer has the puck on his stick or causes chaos in front of the opposing net, he’s always doing something to help his team. If the Newfoundland native hadn’t fought for position ahead of Connor Hellebuyck, could Hughes have scored on the rebound? He’s still a player to watch, but especially if he’s up against 22-year-old Josh Norris.

Ottawa Senators: Josh Norris

The young forward has performed well for the Senators, scoring his last four games and averaging 19 minutes of ice time. With teammates Tkachuk and Batherson, Norris’ trio will be dangerous tonight. If the Devils’ defense is focused on Tkachuk, Norris could be open enough to have an outstanding game.

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