Devils Gameday Preview: Carolina Hurricanes – 01/22/22

The New Jersey Devils are looking to earn two points against the Carolina Hurricanes after suffering three consecutive losses. It will be their first game since their frustrating and disappointing 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at Prudential Center on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Head coach Lindy Ruff will be looking for a bounce-back performance tonight from his group against the top team in the division.

The last time the Devils and Hurricanes met was on Feb. 14, 2020. It resulted in a 5-2 loss for the Devils at PNC Arena and all five players who earned a point for New Jersey are no longer on the roster. In fact, only six Devils players who appeared in that game will be on the ice tonight. Nino Niederreiter scored on Carolina’s first shot and finished the game with two points. Here’s a look at the storylines ahead of today’s game.

2 Storylines: Carolina Hurricanes (27-8-2)

The Hurricanes Are Searching For Their Fourth Straight Win

Their 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers last night was their third straight since Jan. 15. In that duration, they have scored 17 goals including five on the power play. Forward Sebastian Aho leads the team with 42 points and has seven points in his last five games. The Hurricanes’ most recent victory propelled them past their opponent in the standings and are now first in the Metropolitan Division.

Sebastian Aho Carolina Hurricanes-Devils Gameday Preview: Carolina Hurricanes - 01/22/22
RALEIGH, NC – Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

“I thought we carried the play early,” said Tony DeAngelo after last night’s game. “I thought they had a really good push there in the third. They’re a good team, they make plays, so they’re going to get some really good chances. I thought in the first two periods we limited them real well and we created a lot. Our forwards were playing really well down low and controlling the puck. We were getting a lot of chances and scrambles in front. We had a lot of tip chances and that’s our game. In the first two periods, we really had it going.”

Related: Carolina Hurricanes’ 5 Best Trades in Franchise History

Carolina’s penalty kill is second best in the league while their power play is ranked fifth. In their last 15 games, their record is 12-2-1 and their explosive offense will be a challenge for either Mackenzie Blackwood or Jon Gillies. The Hurricanes have four players with over 30 points this season, while the Devils only have one — Jesper Bratt.

Tony DeAngelo is Having a Career Season

A change of scenery has done wonders for the 26-year-old defenseman. He currently has 31 points in 30 games and is on pace to have the best performance of his career. His best season was in 2019-20 with the Rangers when he finished with 53 points in 68 games and it is very possible he can surpass that by April. It was a controversial choice to sign DeAngelo who had a history of disciplinary issues, but he has seamlessly fit into the lineup and helped ease the loss of Dougie Hamilton.

2 Storylines: New Jersey Devils (14-19-5)

The Devils Are Desperate for a Bounce-Back Performance

After Wednesday night’s game, both Nico Hischier and Ryan Graves expressed frustration with their team’s mismanagement of the puck and overall performance against the Coyotes. The Devils’ inability to play a structured 60-minute game in addition to not being able to hold a lead has resulted in more losses than any player or coach would like.

“We’ve got to understand and learn how to play with a lead,” Nico Hischier said. “I feel like we had the game under control. We just have to learn to stick with it. There was not a lot of energy left and you can’t let the momentum change that quickly. There’s still a lot of hockey left. We have to understand that and learn it.”

The Devils Need Support From Their Goaltender

The goaltending will have to be excellent tonight if they want to give themselves a chance to compete with their opponent. Six different goaltenders have suited up for the Devils this season, and none have been consistently spectacular between the pipes. After yesterday’s practice, coach Ruff shared that he had a meeting with Blackwood and the message was clear.

Mackenzie Blackwood New Jersey Devils-Devils Gameday Preview: Carolina Hurricanes - 01/22/22
Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“Put what’s behind you behind you and focus on the next game,” Ruff said. “He’s had his ups and downs. We’ve talked about this in the past. It’s only the next game that counts. Focus on that, and break that down into periods. Win a period. If you lose one, go out and win the next period. Try to make strides inside of every game. There are a lot of goaltenders that play the game inside the game. There are a lot of things you have to let go inside of a game. Sometimes it’s bad breaks, sometimes it’s bad goals. Just live in the moment and don’t look behind you.”

Considering the Devils will be playing tonight and tomorrow there is a good chance that both Blackwood and Gillies will play this weekend, it is just a matter of which day they will start. At the time of publication of this article, the Devils did not announce which goaltender will start tonight.

Players to Watch

New Jersey Devils: Nico Hischier

Hischier is quietly having a good season for the Devils with five points in his last five games. He scored New Jersey’s only goal last game has 10 points in his last 11 appearances dating back to Dec. 3, 2021. This season he has evolved into a true leader for his team and has quieted some of the noise that he is too young and soft to be a captain in the NHL.

Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho

Aho played his 400th career NHL game last night and is the fourth player from the 2015 NHL Draft to achieve this milestone. He leads the team with seven power-play goals, 14 points on the man advantage. Last night, he played 15:02 including two minutes on the power play and 48 seconds on the penalty kill. He led the team with three takeaways and finished the night with three points. It does not matter what situation he is put in, he is a threat each time he jumps over the boards to take a shift.

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