The New Jersey Devils continue their preseason as they travel to UBS Arena in Elmont to face the New York Islanders. It is the second meeting between the two teams as head coach Lindy Ruff’s team looks to improve to 2-0 against their division rivals.
The Devils’ current preseason record is an impressive 4-1-0. The one thing that has been noticeable the past week is the team’s depth beyond Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt. Tomas Tatar, Nathan Bastian, and Erik Haula have all been standouts, and it is a positive sign moving forward as the competition for a bottom-six role continues to be at an all-time high as players fight for their spots in the lineup.
The Devils were off the ice on Wednesday and returned to RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House to participate in a morning skate at 11:30 AM. The club announced their latest round of team cuts on Tuesday that included: Joseph Gambardella, Jeremy Groleau, Robbie Russo, and Tyler Wotherspoon who all cleared waivers on Wednesday. Let’s break down everything you need to know ahead of puck drop.
Setting the Stage
How to Watch and Listen
Fans can watch tonight’s contest on MSG or listen on the Devils Hockey Network. It is worth noting Devils play-by-play announcers Bill Spaulding and Ken Daneyko are off tonight, and it will be the MSG Networks’ Islanders team who will provide the telecast.
Tonight’s Projected Devils Roster
Forwards: Fabian Zetterlund, Jesper Boqvist, Alexander Holtz, Miles Wood, Michael McLeod, Graeme Clarke, Nolan Foote, Aarne Talvitie, Brian Halonen, Mason Geertsen, Brian Pinho, and Nathan Bastian.
Defensemen: Ryan Graves, Damon Severson, Kevin Bahl, Brendan Smith, Nikita Okhotiuk, and Simon Nemec.
Goaltenders: Mackenzie Blackwood and Vitek Vanecek.
Tonight’s Projected Islanders Roster
The Islanders held an optional skate this morning with the following players: Ilya Sorokin, Sebastian Aho, Grant Hutton, Samuel Bolduc, Josh Bailey, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Anders Lee, Aatu Raty, and Simon Holmstrom. Andrew Gross of Newsday tweeted earlier that Cal Clutterbuck, Scott Mayfield and Oliver Wahlstrom are unavailable to suit up tonight.
A Look at the Islanders
Their preseason record is 2-2-0 and one of those losses came at the hands of the Devils back on Sept. 27. Since that contest, New York re-signed forward Mathew Barzal to an 8-year contract worth $73.2 million and assigned a few players to the American Hockey League, including former Devils’ goaltender Cory Schneider. Islanders’ head coach Lane Lambert is now down to one practice group, as they inch closer to their opening night roster.
“It’s exciting, to be honest,” Ryan Pulock said of trimming the group. “We’re getting to the point where opening night’s a week or so away. It’s now really trying to dial it in and preparing for every guy’s role and the systems that we’re doing and just focusing on putting together a full game, how we want to play.”
Players to Watch
New Jersey Devils: The Forward Group
When looking at the expected forwards who will take to the ice tonight, these are all players who may only have one more chance to earn a roster spot. Besides Holtz, who has played top minutes alongside Jack Hughes, the rest are vying for a bottom-six spot in the lineup. This is a game where the focus will be on individual performances, and it could very well be make-or-break for most of the players who make up the forward group.
New York Islanders: Anders Lee
The Islanders captain is coming off a 46-point campaign (28 goals, 18 assists) and when healthy is a top player for his club. He doesn’t shy away from physicality and is known for being a net-front presence blocking the sight of opposing goaltenders. In three preseason games he has been relatively quiet, only collecting one goal. It will be interesting to see how New Jersey’s defense and goaltenders will play against him tonight.
Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March of 2021. She is thrilled to be putting her journalism degree to use and is a credentialed correspondent covering the New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. You can follow her journey on Twitter @InStilettos_NHL and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.